Whittier Colleges Announces Plans for Commencement Ceremonies

March 30, 2021

Whittier College has announced that it is planning a traditional in-person commencement for Fall 2021, and is seeking input for a limited in-person celebration in May 2021.

As announced earlier this month, the College is also organizing a virtual commencement that will include all of our graduates and will be streamed online on Friday, May 21.

Over the last few weeks, Whittier administration has been monitoring the guidelines put out by Los Angeles County and the State of California for the possibility of holding a limited in-person celebration. On March 15, Los Angeles County moved to the Red Tier, which allows for the reopening of certain establishments. Institutions of higher education are not included in the general reopening but have been given separate instructions for a limited reopening. In addition, on Friday, the California Department of Public Health released new guidelines for holding outdoor events, including graduation ceremonies.

As such, the College can consider hosting an in-person graduation celebration under the following Red Tier restrictions:
    •    The event will be held outdoors and will not exceed 20% of the venue’s capacity. 
    •    The event will be ticketed—each participant will be allowed to bring two guests (tickets are non-transferable) and seating will be assigned.
    •    Participants (including guests) must live within a 120-mile radius of the College. No participants or guests from outside Southern California will be allowed.
    •    Each participant and their guests must be from the same household.

"These guidelines are in line with the celebrations being organized by peer institutions—colleges and universities that are of similar size and are located within Los Angeles County," said President Linda Oubré said in an email to the Class of 2021. "Please note, that the situation may change based on infection rates in the coming weeks. We may need to make last-minute adjustments to our plans based on any new guidelines and restrictions."

"I am asking for your feedback on how you’d like to proceed with the upcoming celebration," Oubré said. The president requested that students fill out an online survey to give their ceremony preferences by Monday, April 5. The options include separate celebrations organized by department (or group of departments) held over two days, May 21-22, or a single group celebration held on Saturday, May 22.

In addition, the College is planning to hold a Traditional In-person Commencement in the fall. The survey gives students the option between a September or October date for that event.

Cultural graduations—Latinx, Black, APIDA, and Lavender—will be held virtually. Questions about those events can be directed to the Office of Equity and Inclusion.

"Please know that despite the less than desirable circumstances, Whittier College administrators, faculty, and staff are committed to ensuring that we fully celebrate your accomplishments as a community," Oubré said. "I continue to be open to all input and suggestions on additional ways that we can celebrate this important milestone."

Feedback about the commencement plans can be sent to president@whittier.edu.