On behalf of the University, I express my sincerest appreciation to everyone who has contributed to our students’ success and commend all who worked tirelessly to ensure their special day come to fruition. I recognize that many of our parents, families, and guests will be using this occasion to not only celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of 2021, but also to visit their alma mater and to possibly reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. Some alumni may be coming with fond memories of past commencement ceremonies and possibly expecting to take part in certain traditions. For this reason, I wish to highlight a number of changes we must make to this year’s celebrations to ensure the health and safety of our entire Norwich community and to meet the State of Vermont COVID-19 guidelines on hosting gatherings. As a reminder, these guidelines carry with them the force of law; we do not have the option to non-comply with the published requirements.
Closure of campus buildings and restricted access to the public. Guests should expect most buildings to be closed. This includes the Kreitzberg Library, the Sullivan Museum and History Center, the Uniform Shop, and the University Bookstore. Guests looking for gifts and memorabilia may still purchase items online but will not be able to peruse our shops in person. A limited number of public restrooms will be accessible to our guests and will be clearly marked.
Mask requirements and physically distanced seating. Guests are expected to wear a mask at all times while on campus and during the Commencement and Joint Commissioning Ceremonies. Guests will be seated six feet apart and are expected to remain seated at all times, unless standing is required. This means that you may not leave your seat to take close-up photographs of your graduate. NOTE: A professional photographer will be on site to capture each student’s special moment on the stage and with their diploma tube in hand. These photographs will be available to students and families one week following the events.
Alternate viewing location for unvaccinated guests. Only fully vaccinated and ticketed guests may observe the in-person ceremony from within Kreitzberg Arena or Shapiro Fieldhouse. Unvaccinated ticketed guests will be directed to one of two viewing areas to watch the ceremony livestreamed.
No concessions. The University will not be offering concessions and all campus dining facilities will be closed or restricted to Norwich University students only. Those planning to stay for the Commissioning Ceremony should plan accordingly. There are a number of restaurants in the Northfield and central Vermont area; reservations may be required.
Prohibition on post ceremony gatherings or celebrations on campus. Graduates and guests are expected to depart the ceremony locations and campus as quickly as possible. Unlike in past years, there will be no opportunity to meet up with faculty or staff afterwards or take photos immediately following the ceremonies. The University is discouraging guests from remaining on campus and gathering with others after each ceremony concludes for the well-being of all and to give us adequate time to clean and sanitize all areas in accordance with public safety guidelines. Many parts of campus will be restricted, including the Upper Parade Ground, to ensure the optimal health and safety of our students and visitors.
The Class of 2021 deserves to be celebrated for their many achievements over the past four years in addition to overcoming all of the challenges during these past months. May 1st is a culminating event in their academic journey in the midst of a global pandemic.
We have come together this year to overcome so much, and must continue to do everything possible to safeguard the progress we have made in protecting the health and safety of our students and community. Please know that I acknowledge that the aforementioned changes, including our need to restrict the total number of guests, is disappointing. It is frustrating and disappointing to all faculty and staff of the university as well, including myself, but we must continue to operate within the rules set by our host state of Vermont. I sincerely ask for your understanding and cooperation between now and throughout our Commencement and Commissioning events. The health and safety of all who enter our campus continues to be our highest priority. Thank you again for your support.
Norwich Together! Norwich Forever!