Letter from President Dell'Omo on updated Commencement plans


Dear Rider Community,

At this time each year, our campuses are normally bustling with excitement as we are in full preparation for our upcoming commencement festivities. This year, we all know things are different, and we had to make the disheartening decision to postpone our celebrations from the traditional dates in May. More than ever, I believe the symbolic occasion of graduation is important to our community. So today, I am writing to share our new commencement plans for the Class of 2020.

We have planned two in-person commencement ceremonies for our Lawrenceville and Westminster Choir College graduates. 

  • The Lawrenceville Commencement is planned for Sunday, November 1, at 1 p.m. at the Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton. This will be a combined undergraduate, graduate and doctoral ceremony as originally planned. This date was chosen to coincide with our annual Homecoming and Family Weekend. On-campus college-based receptions will be held the morning of commencement as originally scheduled, as well as many other events throughout the weekend to connect with classmates. 

  • The Westminster Choir College Commencement is planned for Saturday, December 12, at 2 p.m. at the Princeton University Chapel. The pre-ceremony music will begin at 1:15 p.m. The commencement ceremony will replace the afternoon performance of Readings and Carols. Readings and Carols performances are planned for Friday, December 11, and Saturday, December 12, at 8 p.m. at the Princeton University Chapel.

These in-person commencement ceremonies have been planned with the assumption that we are able to return to large in-person gatherings by that point in time. Should the coronavirus pandemic continue into the fall, we will need to re-evaluate this once again.

I want to thank our student leaders on both campuses who provided valuable input on these commencement decisions. Students clearly desire to hold in-person ceremonies with their families in attendance sometime before the end of the calendar year. Student leaders expressed appreciation that we did not cancel commencement altogether, and that we sought their input on these plans.

Students were also instrumental in our now-formalized plans to create celebratory videos to be shared with our University community on May 15 and 16, the original commencement dates. Our teams are working on these videos now, and while they are in no way meant to be a substitute for an actual commencement ceremony, I do hope they will offer a timely way to celebrate all that is simply remarkable about our Class of 2020 and create engagement opportunities in this socially-distanced environment. Keep an eye out for more information about these celebratory videos. They will be shared via email, on our website and through social media.

Graduating students will receive their diplomas in padded diploma covers in the mail this summer. We will distribute academic attire to those who plan to attend commencement as we get closer to the rescheduled dates. We will share additional details with you as they are finalized and appreciate your patience in the meantime.

Students, please remember that your email stays live forever, so you should continue to check it for information and updates regarding the rescheduled ceremonies even after this academic year ends. Information will also be shared on the University’s website. Specific questions can be directed to [email protected].

Coronavirus may have changed the way we gather to celebrate the Rider University Class of 2020, but it will never stop us from acknowledging this life-changing milestone in the lives of our students.

There will be more information forthcoming, but for now, I hope you are all staying home, safe and healthy.


Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.