Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
March 19, 2020
May commencement ceremonies postponed

Dear May 2020 Graduates and NIU Community,


You’ve been anticipating this heartbreaking news, and it pains me to share that NIU is officially postponing the May graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies. I hope you noted the word postponing. We are committed to honoring and celebrating your accomplishments and are making plans to do so in August. This decision was made to protect the health and well-being of our students, their families and our community, and to give you time to make appropriate plans to celebrate your achievements.


While COVID-19 continues to fuel uncertainties, we want to have a date on the calendar to which we can all look forward. Our plan is to host the graduate commencement ceremony Friday, Aug. 7, and undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday, Aug. 8. Both would take place in our NIU Convocation Center. You will be able to choose whether to walk at the August ceremony or to wait and walk in the December 2020. Our Law School graduates will receive a separate communication today regarding plans for their ceremony’s timing.


We know that there are also several related celebrations that happen within the colleges, diversity resource centers and student organizations. We encourage the organizers of these wonderful events to hold them in May, using their creativity to ensure that whatever social distancing measures might be in place are respected. Alternatively, the events could be postponed until August to coincide with the commencement ceremonies or held at another time that is meaningful to participants.


While we will not host May ceremonies, your status as a graduate of NIU will not be affected. If you complete the requirements for a degree this spring, you will graduate and receive that degree in May. Your transcript will reflect the fact that you have earned a degree, and we will mail you your diploma at the usual time, within four to six weeks after the end of the semester. The standard graduation fee covers the cost of processing, printing and mailing your diploma. If you choose to walk in August or December, you will not be required to pay an additional graduation fee. More details will be available on our FAQ.


We realize that you have been dreaming about graduation for years and, for many of you, your family has pictured this occasion for even longer. Whether you are one of many in your family to graduate or you are the proud first, we know that this change of plan is disappointing, and especially hard because of the other changes to course delivery and residential life. We understand how this news impacts you and your family, and we are committed to making sure you have an opportunity to participate in commencement. You deserve it.


I leave you with a quote that is embossed on NIU’s ceremonial mace, which is carried by a member of the faculty at each graduation. It’s from Paulo Freire, an influential educator and philosopher who reminds us that “Education does not change the world. Education changes the people who will change the world.” We’ve seen more change in our world this past week than we could ever have imagined, but I have immeasurable hope for our future knowing that our graduates will go out prepared to make it better by rising to this unprecedented occasion.


Together Forward,


Lisa C. Freeman


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