Update for graduating students on Commencement 2021

March 16, 2021

Dean Greg Sterling sent the following announcement to YDS graduating students today.

Dear Graduating Students,
Greetings. As you now know from President Salovey’s announcement, Yale will permit limited in-person commencement ceremonies if health conditions permit. I have had the opportunity to speak directly with a number of you who have been hoping that this would be the case. Associate Dean Jeanne Peloso will survey students to find out if you would prefer to have an in-person or a virtual commencement. It is your graduation and we want to honor your wishes.
If YDS is able to proceed with an in-person ceremony on May 24th, we would conduct it outdoors in front of Marquand Chapel as we traditionally have. We would need to limit the total number of people to 200 (a State of Connecticut restriction) which means that the ceremony would include graduates and faculty only. We would, of course, have some staff present. We would follow the normal process except the chairs would need to be spaced appropriately for social distancing, and we would need to wear masks. The event would be live-streamed so that your families and friends could attend remotely. Graduating students who are not in the New Haven area would have a choice to return and go through the protocols for those who travel or have their photo displayed on a screen when their name is read. This would be a choice that each graduating student would make. 
We have discussed what we would do in the event of inclement weather. If we have a light rain, we will distribute rain ponchos (our normal custom). If there is a serious storm, we may need to move the time of the event . We plan to meet at 12:30 for our ceremony at present, but this is subject to change as the University’s plans become clearer and we have a good idea of the weather for that day.
We will have a virtual worship service on Sunday, May 23rd. That event is currently planned for 4 p.m. 
This has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone. Thank you for remaining flexible and for persevering through the pandemic. We want to honor you for your accomplishments, which are unique in the history of YDS. I salute each of you. You deserve a standing ovation. Good luck as you complete the semester. We will be in touch as more details become available.
Best wishes,
Greg Sterling
March 16, 2021