Hope College has decided to further postpone in-person commencement for the Class of 2020 to May 2021.

For the full message from President Scogin to recent graduates and their families, please read on.

Dear Class of 2020,

I am writing with an update on commencement plans.

Since May, our focus at Hope College has been — and will continue to be — preparing for the safe return of students to campus for the 2020-21 academic year. As we plan for the fall semester, we are operating under the assumption that there will be ongoing restrictions on the size of gatherings in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

While much of the nation and the state of Michigan are on a good trajectory toward safely reopening, it unfortunately has become clear to us that any attempt to hold an on-campus commencement celebration for thousands of people in August would be inconsistent with the framework we will be using for the fall. If Hope were to host an in-person celebration in August, even outdoors, the constraints would significantly limit participation of friends and family, and ultimately not provide you with a good commencement experience. In addition, given that restrictions are more stringent for indoor gatherings, in the event of rain, it would be impossible to hold the ceremony in DeVos Fieldhouse.

Our team made a valiant attempt to plan a commencement ceremony in August, but in the end we determined it was not going to be the proper celebration that you have earned and deserve. For this reason, we have decided to further postpone in-person commencement for the Class of 2020 to May 2021.

Notably, other major events in Ottawa County scheduled for the same weekend in August, including the Ottawa County Fair, have been recently canceled.

This is extremely disappointing for all of us. I was truly looking forward to celebrating with you in person this summer. We promise to make the commencement next May a special and memorable weekend. It will be one year from your official graduation, making it both a commencement and a one-year reunion.

For now, know that your class — the Class of 2020 — has earned an entire chapter in the history of Hope College. You will be forever referenced as an exceptional and resilient class. I could not be more proud of you, the first graduating class of my presidency at Hope.

Spera in Deo,

Matthew A. Scogin