Dear Seminary Community,
We continue to monitor the evolving public health situation. While the beginning of vaccine distribution gives us much cause for hope, it is clear that we will still have significant limitations on gathering and public events through the summer.
For this reason, we have made the decision that we will hold virtual commencement exercises this May for our graduates. This will allow every graduate to participate, regardless of their current location, and to do so safely. Making this decision now will allow time to plan for a meaningful experience. A committee chaired by Dean John White, and including representatives from the graduating class, will be planning these virtual festivities. More information will be forthcoming.
This was a painful decision, and I know this news will be especially disappointing to our graduates and their families, but also to the faculty that enjoys watching their students receive their degrees. Commencement is one of the most cherished services of the academic year, and it poignantly marks the culmination of years of dedicated work. Yet our first responsibility is the health of our community, family members, and guests. We trust that the Spirit will bring us together across the miles in virtual celebration, even as we look forward to a future time when we can gather on campus for in-person celebrations and reunions.
This year the alumni reunion will also be a fully virtual experience. While we will miss the opportunity to gather with classmates and friends in Princeton, there is a very exciting program planned including worship, class gatherings, and keynote speaker Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III.
Throughout the long days of the pandemic we have experienced a great deal of disappointment, and there is no way to recover what is lost. This is certainly true of a dream to graduate in cap and gown with your friends and family in the University Chapel. But for almost a year, we have also discovered again and again that God is faithful in consoling us in our grief and renewing our hope for a future when our joy doesn’t have to be virtual.
M. Craig Barnes
President, Princeton Theological Seminary