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SUNY Potsdam Postpones Commencement Ceremony Due to Coronavirus Concerns

March 27, 2020

SUNY Potsdam Announces Postponement of 2020 Commencement Ceremony; College Surveys Graduates on Alternate Plans for Future Celebration

SUNY Potsdam’s 2020 Commencement Ceremony, scheduled for May 23, has been postponed, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

SUNY Potsdam announced today in a message to graduating students that the College must postpone its 2020 Commencement Ceremony, which had been scheduled for Saturday, May 23, in the Academic Quad.

Due to the new state and federal restrictions on non-essential travel and social distancing guidelines, SUNY Potsdam must postpone the traditional Commencement ceremony until the event is safe to hold.

This year marks SUNY Potsdam’s 200th Commencement, since the College’s founding in 1816. Commencement is held outdoors in the Academic Quad, and typically attracts up to 5,000 people, including the graduates, faculty, staff, families and friends.

“It is with great sadness, but a deep sense of responsibility, that we postpone our Commencement ceremony as originally scheduled. Commencement is the highlight of the academic year, and I take such joy in seeing our graduates cross the stage. However, in order to protect the health of our campus and community, we must take this step. Rest assured, we have every intention of honoring the Class of 2020, and very much look forward to doing so,” said President Dr. Kristin G. Esterberg.

SUNY Potsdam’s Commencement Committee has already met to discuss possible options for alternate celebrations. The College is surveying graduates to ask their preferences for a rescheduled ceremony, as well as virtual/distance celebrations as the semester ends. SUNY Potsdam is in contact with its partners at the Associated Colleges of the St. Lawrence Valley, as it considers possible dates for rescheduling.

The College has already decided to move its annual honors convocations and award ceremonies for departments and Schools to an online format this semester.

Following new directives from President Trump and Governor Cuomo limiting gatherings and closing certain facilities, SUNY Potsdam has had to restrict access to much of campus, and cancel or postpone most events and activities for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester. All College-sponsored or third party events and activities that would involve in-person gatherings of 10 people or more have been canceled or will be reworked for a virtual format.

Additionally, due to the new social spacing directives and the staffing limitations the College is faced with, SUNY Potsdam has also had to restrict access to most campus buildings, out of safety and staffing concerns. Most campus buildings will remain restricted to the public until further notice.

To keep up with the latest updates on SUNY Potsdam’s response to COVID-19, visit

About SUNY Potsdam:
Founded in 1816, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 50 colleges—and the oldest institution within SUNY. Now in its third century, SUNY Potsdam is distinguished by a legacy of pioneering programs and educational excellence. The College currently enrolls approximately 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its challenging liberal arts and sciences core, distinction in teacher training and culture of creativity. To learn more, visit

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