Adapting to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is planning two observances to mark the accomplishments of the Class of 2020.

Events Honoring the Class of 2020

Honoring the Class of 2020

May 17, 2020

A pandemic may have delayed an in-person celebration of the Class of 2020 until next year, but the Colgate community will still have a special moment on May 17, 2020.

Participate virtually as Colgate honors the Class of 2020 and confers degrees on this year's graduates. The event will feature:

  • A live streaming address from President Brian W. Casey
 at 3 p.m. EST, followed by the presentation of names and photos from the Class of 2020
  • Special video messages from the 25th and 50th reunion Classes of 1995 and 1970
  • See who is sharing celebratory messages, images, and more on Twitter and Instagram, and contribute your own using #Colgate2020

Honoring the Class of 2020

May 22–23, 2021

In May 2021, the University will hold an in-person event on campus for the Class of 2020. The weekend will include the traditional Senior Torchlight Procession and several other events designed to celebrate the class while affording families and friends an opportunity to participate in the traditions and spirit that mark a Colgate Commencement Weekend.

Questions and Answers

Degrees and Diplomas

Yes, degrees will be conferred upon the graduates effective May 17, 2020. Many students need degrees to be awarded so they can begin their jobs, or to start graduate school or fellowships. Graduates will be able to indicate their 2020 degree on résumés and other official documents.

Yes, of course. Final grades for seniors are due to the Registrar on May 11, 2020. The Registrar then has to process all the grades, verify completion of all credits and degree requirements, and produce the diplomas. If this was a normal year, this process would be completed for graduates just in time to receive their diplomas on May 17. This year, these processes will take place as quickly as possible, but will still be completed roughly by May 16. With current social distancing guidelines and the disruptions in mail service, mailing of the diplomas after this work by the faculty and the registrar will take some time. The diplomas, however, will be processed and mailed to the graduates as quickly as possible. We know how important it will be for the graduates to receive the degrees that are a mark of all their hard work and accomplishments.

Degree verification request processing for the Class of 2020 will begin on May 18. Requests can be made directly to the Registrar's Office. Transcripts provided after May 17 will include the graduation date of May 17, 2020. See Requesting A Transcript for more information. Students with questions about degree verification or transcript requests should contact the Registrar's Office (315-228-7408,

Yes. Annual student awards will be announced on Friday, May 1, 2020.

Planning Committee

A committee of senior class officers, members of the Konosioni senior honor society, and other class leaders is working with the Commencement Executive Committee to plan the two observances to mark the accomplishments of the Class of 2020. 

Alexus Gian, Office of International Student Services Representative
Ayah Elarabi, SGA Co-Vice President
Christian Johns, SGA Co-President
Daniel In, Office of International Student Services Representative
David Little, Konosioni Co-President
Emma Veber, Senior Class Gift Co-Chair
Hunter Maclean, Class President
J.J. Citron, SGA Co-Vice President
Jordan Williams, ALANA Affairs Committee Representative
Kate Bundy, SGA Co-President
Kiana Billot-Vasquez, Konosioni Co-President
Leah Weisburn, Community Leader
Matt Gentile, Class Representative
Miller Ward, Class Representative
Rachel Thompson, Raiders of Color Committee Representative
Samantha Croston, Student Athlete Advisory Committee Vice President
Teresa Burns, Senior Class Gift Co-Chair
Vanessa Lizana, Class Vice President
Victoria Rykaczewski, Community Leader

May 17, 2020 Virtual Celebration

On May 17, 2020, the Conferral of Degrees Ceremony will begin at 3:00 p.m. EST. 

President Brian W. Casey will address the class, families, and friends, followed by the digital presentation of the graduates' names. 

Add your voice and spirit to the day:


Throughout the May 17 virtual event, seniors are invited to contribute congratulations, live thoughts, stories, reactions, and more as the event unfolds. Simply post to Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #Colgate2020.

A live aggregation of posts from these platforms will be shared alongside the video stream.

A virtual Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony is being planned, and more details will follow. Details on other graduation events will be shared as soon as they are available.

Caps, Gowns, and Regalia

Seniors who wish to have their caps, gowns, and tassels before May 17, 2020, can order them by using the button below. The deadline has been extended to May 1, 2020. The items will be mailed directly from the vendor at no cost to the graduate. Graduates who have their cap and gown sent to them and decide to attend the May 2021 celebration should bring those items with them if they want to wear them; a second set will not be provided.

Order Cap, Gown, and Tassel

Students who don’t want these items now and plan to come to the May 2021 campus celebration do not need to order now. A new round of ordering will take place next year, with the gowns shipped to Colgate for pickup that weekend.

Most stoles and cords are given out on an individual departmental basis; students expecting to receive a particular item should check in with the relevant department.

Senior class sweaters will be mailed with their diploma, to the address they provided in the emailed survey.

The Stole of Gratitude is a tradition in which students may express their gratitude to a non-Colgate friend or family member for their support throughout their education. Typically, the graduating student will wear this special stole on their shoulders during the commencement ceremony, and then bestow the stole on the person whom they wish to thank following the event. Despite the unique circumstances of 2020, or perhaps in particular recognition of support received during this difficult time, graduating seniors may still wish to use the tradition of the stole of gratitude to say thank you.

Seniors may order a Stole of Gratitude directly from the Colgate Bookstore.

May 22–23, 2021 Celebration

We wanted to pick a time that would allow for the most number of students and their family members to attend. At this time, we cannot be certain that the travel and social distancing rules will be fully lifted by June and July. August presents its own problems. Should the economy and travel be back to normal by August, many graduates will be moving to new cities to start their jobs, while other classmates will be starting graduate school and fellowships. Once the regular school year resumes, we will not have enough rooms to house all graduates and their families. A weekend in May provides a real opportunity for many families to sufficiently plan for a return to campus, with enough rooms to house the graduates and their guests.

We anticipate that the weekend’s events will start late morning on Saturday, May 22, and conclude by midday on Sunday, May 23.

The lighting of the Willow Path for commencement has become a beloved tradition. The Willow Path will be lit for the May 2021 Class of 2020 celebration.

There will be a ceremony that will be designed by the Planning Committee. 

Yes, we are expecting the Torchlight Procession to take place on Saturday night, May 22, 2021.

Yes, for the Torchlight Ceremony, graduates will be given torches that will be theirs to keep.


Yes, University housing will be available to graduates and their families.  We have not yet determined how these rooms will be assigned. Working with Residential Life, this will be a matter for the committee to discuss options.

All existing family housing reservations will be canceled and refunded. Details will be announced in January 2021 about on-campus options housing for May 2021.

Gifts for Graduates

The Colgate Bookstore offers distinctive Gifts for Graduates, from the When Through Thy Valley: Colgate in 200 Images photo book and Becoming Colgate: A Bicentennial History to a variety of commemorative items.

Faculty and Staff

If your program or department plans to send citations, cords, or awards to members of the Class of 2020, please provide the name and Colgate ID number to Rebecca Roser, University Events coordinator (, who will provide you with the up-to-date mailing address that was collected for delivering their diplomas.

Please submit your virtual event to the online campus calendar.  Please note that all previously submitted Commencement events have been removed from the calendar and that new events must be submitted.

Note that without proper preparations, public virtual events can be targeted by malicious users. Before submitting an event, please read through the guidelines on our Guidance for Event Organizers and Preventing Zoombombing pages for ideas on how to safeguard your event.

To submit a new event to the calendar:

  • Go to
  • Click the Submit an Event button located along the right side of the page.
  • Enter an event name. Ensure that the nature of the event and who is invited is clear. Examples:
    • Africana and Latin Americana Studies Virtual Reception
    • Interdisciplinary Virtual Senior Brunch (Geography, Geology, Physics and Astronomy, Environmental Studies)
    • International Student Virtual Coffee Hour
  • Provide additional details about the event (other than date and time, which have their own fields) in the description.
  • Include an option for registration. This may be an email address, Google Form, or other method of collecting attendee's information. Please note that it is not recommended to include direct links or passwords to virtual events in a public forum such as the campus calendar. See the Guidance for Event Organizers and Preventing Zoombombing pages.
  • Include both a start time and an end time
  • Under Filters > Topic, select Commencement.
  • Under Filters > Event Format, select Webinar/Virtual Event.
  • Click Add Event. Your event should be approved and published within two business days.

Future Commencement Dates 

  • May 16, 2021
  • May 22, 2022
  • May 21, 2023
  • May 19, 2024

Questions? Contact Michele Carney, commencement coordinator:


Colgate maintains archives of photos, video, and speech transcripts from commencement ceremonies dating back five years on the website.