March 26, 2020

Purdue to pioneer on-demand commencement for Class of 2020

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Members of Purdue University’s Class of 2020 will hear their names called, hold diplomas in their hands, wear a cap and gown, and take part, albeit away from Elliott Hall of Music, in all the personal hallmarks, pomp and circumstance of a traditional Purdue commencement — complete with music from Purdue Bands and Purdue Musical Organizations, an invocation, an address by Purdue President Mitch Daniels, student responders, and the conferral of degrees.

“Purdue is known for the most personal and memorable commencement of any large university. If we can’t put on the nation’s best traditional ceremony, then we’ll produce the best remote one,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “We promise to continue to do this the Purdue way: Students will still receive their own diploma, each name will be called individually, and participants will hear from our excellent student musicians and speakers. It’s a huge disappointment to us all that we can’t do this in person, but with input from a creative group of graduating seniors, we will do the best we can to preserve the essence of this special occasion.”

May 2020 graduates will receive, before May 15, the original date of Purdue’s spring commencement, a mailing that will include a diploma cover, the commencement program, their honor cords (as earned), and information on how to download their own ceremony, which they can watch with their families at a time that works for them. Graduates also can expect to receive their diplomas in the mail in plenty of time to celebrate with their families while taking part in the digital ceremony.

Graduates can purchase or rent a cap and gown from vendor Herff Jones as planned. Purdue has worked with the company to extend the deadline for students to purchase or rent a cap and gown to April 22, to remove any late fees, to absorb the cost of shipping to and from graduates and to extend the amount of time graduates can keep their rented cap and gown.

In addition, a series of virtual photo backgrounds and filters will be available for graduates to capture keepsake photos in their caps and gowns, on the stage at Elliott Hall, near the Bell Tower or Gateway to the Future arch, that they will be able to share on social media as they wish. 

“We are still gathering ideas, and we’ll have even more details to share soon. In the meantime, we want you to know how important this is to us, how deeply we share in your disappointment that the usual ceremony can’t go on as planned and how hard we’re working to create a meaningful, memorable experience,” said Purdue registrar Keith Gehres.

More details about the planned virtual ceremony, as well as opportunities to attend a future ceremony in person, whether in August or December, will be released to graduates in coming weeks. 

Contact: Tim Doty,

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

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