Published: March 26, 2020
Graduation tassel

Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano announced today that CU Boulder will invite its spring 2020 graduates to partake in a livestreamed commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16. The chancellor is also inviting the graduates to return to campus in May 2021 for special events in recognition of their years of hard work to achieve their degrees.

"Commencement at Folsom Field is one of our most beloved traditions, and we are heartbroken not to be able to celebrate it in person with you this May,” DiStefano said. “To keep our community safe while preserving our great traditions, we will hold commencement this May via livestream. We also want you to return next spring when we can fully celebrate our class of 2020 with special recognition events. Let’s take this moment to begin the celebration of our class of 2020 this spring—one that will culminate next year when we welcome you back to Folsom Field.”

Like other institutions across the country, CU Boulder needed to cancel its in-person commencement ceremony this May due to the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak and increasingly stringent public health orders regarding travel and public gatherings.

In its place, an innovative remotely produced livestreamed program is being designed that will capture the essence of the class of 2020 and provide graduates with ways to participate, while still delivering the traditional elements of the CU Boulder commencement ceremony. Graduates will receive diplomas, diploma covers and other traditional commencement materials by mail. Graduating students should make sure their mailing addresses are updated in the BuffPortal.

After weighing various options, campus leaders opted to stage a ceremony via livestream to protect our community’s health and safety, while making sure the entire campus community can participate. It remains unclear how long restrictions on travel and public gatherings related to the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place.

CU Boulder alumnus Dan Carlin (Hist’89), described as the king of long-form podcasting and host of the show Hardcore History, will deliver the commencement address remotely.

Carlin’s remarks could not be more timely at this historic moment. He is the co-creator of the 2019 award-winning “immersive memory” First World War virtual reality experience, War Remains and author of The New York Times bestseller The End is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses.

Other highlights of the livestreamed May 16 ceremony include:

  • Live conferral of degrees.
  • Recorded Norlin Charge, alma mater and national anthem.
  • Live social media commentary.
  • Slides of the class of 2020.
  • Live comments by Chancellor DiStefano and Senior Class Council President Chad Brokaw.
  • Congratulatory messages from CU President Kennedy and the University of Colorado Board of Regents.
  • Traditional senior class video.

“We certainly understand the decision not to hold an in-person commencement on Folsom Field due to this unprecedented situation, and yes, it’s disappointing,” Brokaw said. “These two options offer us an opportunity to showcase our creativity, resilience and Buff pride. The class of 2020 is in this together.”

Students must apply to graduate by April 1 to see their names in the commencement program. April 30 is the final deadline to apply to graduate. 

Graduation deadlines have been extended for doctoral and master's students planning to have their degrees awarded in May 2020.

Information about alternative plans for school, college and department recognition ceremonies will be shared at a later date. 

Find updates on the commencement webpage.