Given social distancing requirements for COVID-19, the University of Guelph has decided not to hold convocation and Alumni Weekend events that were scheduled for June.

“We know that this is very disappointing news for our graduating students, their families and our alumni,” said president Franco Vaccarino.

“Both convocation and Alumni Weekend are very important for our University. Celebrating our students’ accomplishments is a source of great joy for everyone on campus, and both events provide opportunities for us to look back with pride and to look forward with hope. However, the safety of our community must be our top priority.”

Vaccarino said the decision was underpinned by public health and government guidelines about social distancing and business operations, and the fact that both events require significant planning and travel. Many other universities have made similar decisions.

Saying she supported the decision, U of G chancellor Martha Billes said, “Of course, I am very disappointed that convocation cannot be held in June. Convocation is one of the highlights of my job as chancellor. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than congratulating our students and sharing the experience with their families and the U of G community. I look forward to celebrating and connecting in the future.”

The University is exploring other potential ways to celebrate its graduating students’ accomplishments, from congratulatory efforts and celebrations to a rescheduled ceremony. Information and details will be forthcoming.

Convocation ceremonies were to be held the week of June 8 for students graduating after the winter 2020 semester. Students who have met graduation requirements will still graduate in June and will receive their degree parchments in the mail.

The University is also considering how to conduct Alumni Weekend reunions that meet requirements for social distancing. More information is forthcoming.

“Our world is so very different from what it was even just a few weeks ago,” Vaccarino said.

“Things are changing every day, sometimes even by the hour. In the last few weeks, we have had to make decisions and adapt — and we have had to do it faster than we ever imagined. But our University’s resiliency during these challenging times has amazed me. We will continue to work through this together.”