Fall convocation at the University of Guelph is going virtual, with a special ceremony focusing on graduates and their unique experiences, all in the context of a changed and evolving COVID-19 world.

“Our plans for fall convocation, like so many other things, have had to be altered drastically due to the ongoing global pandemic,” said U of G president Charlotte Yates.

U of G had hoped to hold in-person ceremonies in October, allowing fall graduates and those who had their June convocation postponed due to COVID-19 to cross the stage in front of family and friends.

But government protocols and public health concerns about physical distancing and large public gatherings continue. The event also requires significant planning and travel. As a result, U of G, like most Ontario universities, is postponing in-person convocation ceremonies.

“I know it is incredibly disappointing to our graduates and their families, along with all of our faculty, staff and students, that we cannot gather together to celebrate,” Yates said. “Convocation is one of the highlights for everyone on campus; I, too, was looking forward to attending my first ceremony as U of G president. But health and safety remain our top priorities, and we believe this is the best decision to protect our students, their families, and our faculty, staff and the greater Guelph community.”

The University is committed to enabling students to participate in a future in-person ceremony when it is safe to do so, perhaps by June 2021.

Meanwhile, a virtual event is being planned for the Guelph campus Oct. 28. The University of Guelph-Humber is also planning a virtual ceremony for the same day.

“Our virtual convocation events will celebrate the class of 2020 in a way that is truly unique,” Yates said. “The focus will be on the students: their stories, their accomplishments, their futures. I believe that graduates and their families and friends will feel they have been part of something special.”

Information and details are forthcoming.

Although fall ceremonies have been postponed, students who have completed their program requirements successfully and applied for graduation will still have their degrees and certification conferred. Degrees and certificates will be conferred on Oct. 13 as originally scheduled and official transcripts will show degree completion. Degrees and certificates will be mailed to graduates at a later date.

“Like summer convocation, U of G’s fall convocation will be far from ordinary. But extraordinary efforts are being made to ensure that convocation is a memorable experience,” Yates said.