2021 Commencement ceremony to be held online

MIT’s Spring 2021 Commencement ceremony will be held online, President L. Rafael Reif wrote in an email to the MIT community Feb. 4. The necessary conditions for holding large public gatherings and celebrations “are still many months away,” Reif said. 

Reif stated that after consulting with the “Commencement Committee, student leaders, the deans, and the senior leadership team,” it was determined that early June was too soon to plan a large campus gathering.

Reif addressed the Class of 2021 directly, writing that “we are intensely focused on making June’s online Commencement event meaningful, memorable and delightful,” and saying to both the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020 that “we are equally committed to creating a special celebration for you […] in person, in the future, once it is safe to do so.”

The virtual ceremony will be executed under the guidance of the Commencement Transition Team, chaired by Professor Jim Poterba. According to the transition team’s website, some of the committee’s 2021-specific tasks include “confirming the elements of the One-MIT Commencement ceremony; guiding planning for the undergraduate diploma ceremony; making recommendations for elements that are appropriate for School advanced degree diploma ceremonies; serving as a resource to Schools as they plan their events; and recommending both composition and charge for the next generation of the Commencement Committee.”

The One-MIT Commencement ceremony, proposed in 2019, would include the Commencement speaker’s address and degree conferral and would be open to all graduates and their guests. 

In his Feb. 4 email, Reif also announced that MIT Reunions for 2021 are to be conducted online. Reif said that “an unexpected benefit” of holding reunions virtually in 2020 was that they “attracted a record number of alumni attendees from around the world, including many who might not have traveled to campus otherwise.”

Activist and criminal justice lawyer Bryan Stevenson was announced as MIT’s 2021 Commencement speaker Feb. 4.