Commencement structure for class of 2020 will not change

Changes are being considered for future classes

The Commencement and Doctoral ceremonies for the class of 2020 will remain the same as those of previous years, Executive Officer for Commencement Gayle Gallagher announced in an email to the MIT community Oct. 11. Potential changes are still being considered for the class of 2021 and beyond.

According to Gallagher’s email, the Academic Council made the decision to keep Commencement the same for the class of 2020. Under this structure, all degrees will be awarded on Killian Court. Doctoral degree candidates will receive diplomas on Thursday, May 28 while bachelor’s and master’s degrees will be awarded on Friday, May 29.

Gallagher wrote that a committee comprising students, staff, and faculty will “develop plans for a meaningful and celebratory Killian Court experience for all graduates” with Commencement 2021 in mind. The committee will be led by Professor James Poterba.

Undergraduate Association President Mahi Elango ’20 wrote in an email to The Tech that the UA had “several meetings with Chancellor's Office and the GSC” to represent undergraduate opinion.

Elango wrote that 84 percent of respondents in a survey sent out to all undergraduates “did not prefer the proposed changes … to the current structure.” The “OneMIT + Schools” structure of Commencement proposed a ceremony for the whole class in Killian court, followed by degree conferral at locations separated by department or school.

President of the Graduate Student Council Peter Su G wrote in an email to The Tech that although the GSC was not directly involved in making this decision, advocacy by the GSC was a factor leading to the decision. Su wrote that there were “logistical constraints” which prevented changes to the 2020 commencement.

According to Su, the primary constraint for 2020 was that the ceremony for undergraduate and master’s students could not be moved to Thursday. “For 2021, that constraint does not exist, so the GSC will have a greater ability to advocate for changes that benefit the MIT community.”

Su wrote that the GSC will advocate for a 2021 commencement that better meets the needs of the graduate community, with the general principle being “to shorten the ceremony, while maintaining the quality and gravitas that the current ceremony offers to all students at MIT.”

Elango wrote that the UA’s position on future changes to Commencement involves a few key points. One is that student representatives from future graduating classes be included in discussions about Commencement and that the Commencement Committee “continue to engage the community in a transparent process.”

The second point Elango emphasized was that an “overwhelming majority” of respondents to the UA survey prioritized receiving degrees as a class. The survey results will be sent out by the UA later this week, Elango wrote.

Students can send questions regarding the schedule for 2020 and the new committee to