Hope College will hold its Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies for the graduating Class of 2021 on Sunday, May 16, with a variety of adjustments because of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
The following week, on Saturday, May 22, Hope will hold a celebratory gathering for the Class of 2020 that will incorporate elements of a reunion and the traditional Commencement ceremony. Because of the pandemic, the college was not able to hold the traditional ceremony for the Class of 2020 either as originally scheduled last spring or during the intervening months.
Hope will hold two Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 on May 16, dividing the class in half alphabetically and also limiting attendance by others, to facilitate physical distancing by reducing the number of people present. Masks will be required as well. The ceremonies will be held at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Attendance is limited to two guests per member of the class, with each graduate making the reservations in advance and on-site check-in. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved inside to the DeVos Fieldhouse and in-person attendance limited to participants. The Commencement speaker will be Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren, associate professor of psychology.
The Baccalaureate service for the Class of 2021 on May 16 will take place outside
in the central campus near Dimnent Memorial Chapel to facilitate physical distancing.
The service will be held at 8:30 a.m., with attendance limited to members of the graduating
class. The Baccalaureate speaker will be the Rev. Dr. Trygve Johnson, who is the Hinga-Boersma
Dean of the Chapel at Hope.
To accommodate family and friends who cannot attend, both Commencement ceremonies will be livestreamed at hope.edu/live, and if the ceremonies are held at the fieldhouse the college will also make several livestream viewing locations across campus available to guests. Because of the outdoor venue, the Baccalaureate service will not be livestreamed, but the ceremony will be recorded and made available for viewing at a time in the future to be determined.
In contrast, Hope’s traditional practice has been to hold a single Commencement ceremony in the afternoon, with guest attendance unlimited if outdoors at the stadium and with tickets necessary only if inclement weather prompts the college to move the event inside. The college also normally holds two Baccalaureate services inside Dimnent Memorial Chapel, dividing the graduating classes in half and providing tickets for a limited number of guests to attend.
When the pandemic prompted the postponement of Baccalaureate and Commencement for the Class of 2020 last May, the college anticipated rescheduling the events and initially made plans to hold them that August. However, with the pandemic continuing, and gathering sizes in the state restricted accordingly, Hope couldn’t hold the ceremonies this past summer or in the several months since. With a year having now passed, the college is instead planning to hold a celebration of and for the class in the Pine Grove in the center of campus on Saturday, May 22 (with Sunday, May 23, as the rain plan). Organized by the President’s Office and the Office of Alumni and Family Engagement, the event will incorporate elements of both a reunion and the traditional ceremony — the latter including remarks by Dr. Jared Ortiz, associate professor of religion, who would have delivered the 2020 Commencement address, and President Matthew A. Scogin.
All of the activities are contingent on conditions at the time and subject to recommendations and restrictions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. Additional and updated information about the Class of 2021 graduation events, including an FAQ, is available at hope.edu/commencement, and about the Class of 2020 celebration is available at hope.edu/celebrate2020
Additional and updated information about the college’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic and related effects on college operations is available at hope.edu/coronavirus