Princeton’s 2021 Commencement marks occasion to celebrate achievements and reflect on challenges of last year

Monday, May 24, 2021

By Emily Aronson, Office of Communications

Princeton University held its 274th Commencement on Sunday, May 16, with an outdoor ceremony that celebrated the accomplishments of students and marked the challenges of the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Traditionally held on the lawn in front of Nassau Hall, the ceremony was moved to Princeton Stadium to accommodate social distancing. The event followed public health and safety guidelines. Ceremonial robes, mortarboards and masks were the accessories of the day.

“By completing your studies amidst this awful pandemic, you have distinguished yourselves even by the standards of this University’s long and illustrious history,” President Christopher L. Eisgruber told students. “And in so doing, you have earned the right to participate in this unique and memorable Commencement ceremony, a ceremony that … provides a surprisingly apt metaphor for the past year.”

Seniors in the Class of 2021 and graduate degree candidates were invited to the ceremony with up to two guests each, though not all students attended. An estimated 1,100 seniors, 200 graduate students and 3,000 guests were present Sunday. Students sat in chairs spaced apart on Powers Field, while guests were socially distanced in assigned seating among the stands.

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