The University will hold an in-person commencement ceremony for the classes of 2020 and 2021 on the National Mall in October, officials announced in an email to members of the GW community Monday.
Commencement will take place Oct. 2 at 11 a.m., and students can bring up to four guests, according to the email. The event will serve as GW’s first in-person Commencement since 2019 – officials cancelled plans for in-person ceremonies during the past two years because of public health concerns tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Provost Brian Blake said this fall’s Commencement, which will take place on the National Mall between 7th and 14th streets, will be “slightly larger than a regular ceremony,” but the area will still accommodate both classes and their guests.
“This is a celebration of coming out of the pandemic,” he said in an interview. “This is a celebration of a group of students that have had to endure the pandemic and graduated.”
Commencement will coincide with the end of GW’s bicentennial celebration, and more details about required ceremony registration and other events during the weekend will be provided in the coming weeks, according to the announcement email.
Officials postponed the University’s in-person commencement ceremony this spring because of restrictions on public gatherings like those from the National Park Service, pushing students to organize their own gatherings while seniors from other universities graduated in person. Out of the five largest universities in the District, GW was the only one to hold Commencement virtually this year.
Officials announced earlier this spring that Lonnie Bunch, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and the speaker for this spring’s virtual ceremony, would be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters at the University’s first in-person Commencement since the start of the pandemic.
University spokesperson Crystal Nosal said officials have yet to finalize many of the ceremony’s plans, like the event’s speaker, but added that officials wanted to provide the graduates with the time needed to plan and prepare for their return to the District this upcoming October.
“We wanted to get the date and time out there so people can start making plans and let people know it is happening and people can make plans to come back to D.C.,” she said.