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Cancelling Convocation during a difficult and extraordinary time

April 02, 2020

Graduates can take part in expanded, in-person convocation ceremonies this fall or in spring 2021.

I know these past few weeks have been very challenging for everyone in the SFU community and I want to thank you again for your patience and perseverance.

On top of everything else, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our June in-person Convocation ceremonies, and to invite graduates to participate instead in extended ceremonies that will take place during our October 2020 and June 2021 Convocations. Similarly, we have decided to postpone our Indigenous Honouring Feast to later this year.

Given the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to protect people’s health and safety, I doubt that this decision comes as a surprise.  However, I know that it must still be a great disappointment. Celebrating Convocation with friends and family is one of the most important and meaningful milestones in the university experience. At SFU, the occasion is infused with unforgettable pageantry as graduates are piped into the spectacular adorned plaza of Convocation Mall.  After years of dedicated study, it is an inspiring  moment for the entire SFU community replete with hope for a better future.

While in-person Convocation ceremonies will not now take place in June, this decision will allow all graduates to have the option of attending a Convocation ceremony in October or next June, and all Indigenous graduates to participate in the Indigenous Honouring Feast on a date this Fall to be determined. In addition, we are planning to hold an online celebration this June that will enable the University community to honour our graduates virtually.

None of this affects the time at which students will graduate. All qualified graduates will still receive their degrees and certificates this June. The formal processes and paperwork will carry on as planned, with details available on the Student Services website.

I also want to take this opportunity to welcome this year’s honorary degree candidates into the SFU family. They are a distinguished group of women and men who have made important contributions to our lives and to our society. You can find stories about each of them here. They will be recognized at our June virtual gathering and invited to attend upcoming Convocation ceremonies.

As President, I regularly hear from students concerned about the future. And it pains me to have to cancel one the most important events in the university calendar. These are very difficult and extraordinary times.  But I hope that the plans we have put in place, combined with your commitment and understanding, will further demonstrate our capacity to get through this difficult time together, and to emerge as a stronger, more connected and resilient university community.