A Message from Chancellor Kent Syverud


Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:

Commencement is a milestone moment. It’s one our graduating students have worked tirelessly toward and one they’ve looked forward to cherishing with family and friends who helped them achieve this accomplishment. That is why I promised our 2020 graduates they would have a Commencement and would have an opportunity to influence the shape of this important event.

After hearing from thousands of our students, I am pleased to share with you that this fall we will hold our 2020 Commencement in our stadium, after the roof replacement project is complete and once health officials advise large gatherings are once again safe. Graduating students overwhelmingly selected this option. It will be one of the first events held in this space. I promise you, we will make it special, meaningful and memorable. Our graduating students have earned it.

As planning efforts get underway, I want to provide our graduating students with the reassurance of how their Commencement and other Commencement-related activities, including schools/college convocations, will move forward. I assure you that, as soon as we are able to finalize plans, we will share the details with you. In the meantime, here are three important dates to mark on your calendars:

·       On April 13, you will receive specific information about how degrees will be conferred.

·       On May 10, I will formally confer upon graduating students the academic degrees that have been approved by our Board of Trustees.

·       By June 1, I anticipate being able to share more details about the fall Commencement.

I appreciate the tremendous patience, understanding and flexibility our graduating students have demonstrated throughout this challenging time. And I look forward to marking your graduation with the ceremony and celebration that you deserve.


Chancellor Kent Syverud


March 23, 2020

Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:

In response to the COVID-19 health emergency, Syracuse University made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend residential instruction for the remainder of the spring semester. Since that time, faculty and staff from across the University have worked tirelessly to support the transition to quality online instruction, and to safeguard the health and well-being of our Orange family. This work continues, and I’m grateful for those shouldering this unplanned and unprecedented burden.

I’m also grateful for our students and their families. You have demonstrated grace, patience and understanding in your interactions with me and others at Syracuse University. Our students, their health and wellness, and the integrity of their academic experience, will remain our focus and top priority as we work to understand the near- and long-term implication of the coronavirus pandemic for Syracuse University. To be clear, those implications are real and present and will require us to make difficult choices and trade-offs on many fronts. All that said, even in the face of this global health emergency, Syracuse University will always remain a student-focused institution.

Over the past weeks there are two important issues that you’ve asked us to address: our intentions related to reimbursement of unused room and board for those students vacating University housing, and our path forward as it relates to Commencement and other graduation activities. I am writing to address both.

First, Syracuse University will provide a prorated reimbursement of room and board payments to students who vacate University housing. To do so is right and appropriate. We have developed a process for students and families to request room and board refunds. To the extent there is an outstanding balance due on a student’s bursar account, the refund would be applied toward the balance first, before a refund is issued.

Second, while many of us have held out hope that Commencement 2020 could proceed as planned, it has become increasingly apparent that those plans must change. Because of public health guidance, we cannot and will not proceed with on-campus in-person commencement events in May, including school and college convocation ceremonies. I deeply regret this outcome.

I am committed to celebrating and recognizing the class of 2020 in a way that is most meaningful to you—our graduates. I promised you would have the celebration you deserve and we will make good on that promise. Very soon, all members of the class of 2020 will receive a survey from me, soliciting your input as to alternative approaches to celebrating and recognizing your academic achievement. We will act quickly on your feedback and share a plan for alternative commencement celebrations promptly.

These are challenging times for the Syracuse University community, and for families everywhere. I am inspired by the many ways our students, faculty, staff, and alumni have responded—with compassion, empathy, and ingenuity—to this global health emergency. We are still in the early stages of this crisis, and thus new and complex challenges lie ahead. However, I’m confident that we will navigate those challenges together, in a way consistent with the values that define what it means to be Orange.

Chancellor Kent Syverud