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SUNY Cortland postpones commencement

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The worsening public health crisis surrounding novel coronavirus has forced SUNY Cortland officials to postpone the Spring 2020 Commencement ceremonies indefinitely.

University President Erik Bitterbaum broke the news to students yesterday in a campus-wide email, just days after the school was directed by the governor to close its campus and use distance learning to complete the remainder of the spring semester.

Cortland’s graduation ceremonies were planned for early May and so far have no official reschedule date.

Seniors and graduate students will still receive their diplomas by mail.

See below for President Bitterbaum’s full message to students:


As the normal routines and expectations of all of our lives continue to be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had to make difficult decisions that impact our students, their families, our faculty and staff. You have all made sacrifices. I thank you, and it pains me to have to ask yet another sacrifice of the SUNY Cortland community.

Given the ongoing threat posed by the novel coronavirus COVID-19, Spring 2020 Commencement will be postponed.  Given the constantly evolving situation, no date has yet been set. As further details develop, we will share them with the SUNY Cortland community. You can check for updates on our COVID-19 resource page as well as our Commencement page.

I understand the great disappointment students who worked so hard for this special day must feel. But as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise, the guidance of federal, state and local health officials is clear: an event that brings thousands of people to campus from across the country would be dangerous, irresponsible and simply cannot be allowed at this time.

Seniors and graduate students who have fulfilled all requirements for graduation will receive their diplomas by mail, as is usually done. No disease can diminish your accomplishment, and I am proud of you all.

Commencement is a cherished tradition that I and our faculty look forward to every year.

Please understand that we will do everything we can to give you and your family an opportunity to celebrate your hard-earned success as soon as it can be done safely.

Thank you for your cooperation during this extremely difficult time.  Please stay safe.

All the best,

Erik J. Bitterbaum

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