To: Caltech's 2021 Graduates and Families
Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President
David A. Tirrell, Provost
Kevin M. Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs
Date: April 16, 2021
Re: Caltech's Commitment to Commemorating Our Graduates
Since the earliest days of the pandemic the Institute's principal objective has been to ensure the health and well-being of all community members, while we continue to advance our research and education mission. This commitment is paramount in every decision, including recent steps to proceed with a measured and phased resumption of on-campus operations and activities.
It is with this in mind that we remain committed to our decision to celebrate our graduates in two stages: a virtual ceremony this June, with an in-person campus celebration for the 2020 and 2021 graduates in the fall. This decision is difficult and disappointing. At the same time, it is our collective responsibility to act in a manner that mitigates the risk of spreading infection in our community and supports a return to more traditional operations.
Even with increasing vaccination rates, inequities in vaccine access and rising infection rates in different parts of the country and the world do not yet allow for safe communal gatherings. At this point in the pandemic, we believe it more prudent to avoid an international gathering on campus. A large transmission event would have the potential to derail Pasadena's recent progress in mitigating the spread of infection and Caltech's current plans for resuming on-campus summer research, and most critically, the full resumption of Caltech's residential research and learning experience this fall. These are risks we must avoid for both the overall health and well-being of our broader community and the Institute's goal to resume traditional operations campus-wide.
Furthermore, public health guidelines for live events, such as commencement ceremonies, limit attendance to in-state residents and out-of-state visitors who are fully vaccinated. This prevents Caltech from realizing a ceremony that reflects Caltech's close-knit community and provides equal opportunity for all graduates to celebrate this milestone in the presence of family and friends.
We look forward to the virtual worldwide celebration of our graduates' achievements on Friday, June 11 at 10 a.m. Pacific, and then to connecting in person this fall.