Message About 2021 Commencement Celebrations

April 16, 2021

Dear Graduates:

Commencement is such an important occasion for our entire community, and at GW, it is even more unique because we are the only university in the country that celebrates on the National Mall.  As university leaders, we understand the importance of creating the most special moment possible for each of our students -- 25 years later, I can still remember how special my own Commencement celebrations were.

Given the community’s desire to continue exploring the possibility of in-person celebrations in May, we have monitored guidance from the District of Columbia and the National Park Service.  After studying D.C.’s April 8 update on guidelines for in-person celebrations, and NPS’s continued restrictions on gathering sizes and turf restrictions on the National Mall, we have concluded that we must continue to postpone in-person Commencement celebrations for the Classes of 2021 and 2020. 

This year, we are celebrating nearly 10,000 graduates from our 10 schools and colleges across 16 events. Our large size creates restrictions on the National Mall and on our campuses that other universities in D.C. are not facing. In conversations with students, graduates, and families, we heard repeatedly our students' willingness to wait to celebrate Commencement while gathering on the National Mall with as many members of their family and friends as possible. In order to ensure that all graduates and their loved ones can celebrate graduation this May, no matter where they are located or their vaccination status, our university-wide and school celebrations will stay virtual.

We are excited to unveil in the coming weeks a portfolio of interactive on-campus elements and virtual activities for graduates, and their loved ones, to celebrate together. We will formally confer degrees on May 16, but please stay tuned for the future announcement of in-person celebrations on the National Mall to honor the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020 as soon as it is safe and feasible. Thank you for your patience, congratulations on your many accomplishments, and Raise High!




M. Brian Blake

Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs