With the COVID-19 virus trends heading in a “concerning direction,” The University of New Mexico announced today that it will not host an in-person graduation this fall, instead opting for a virtual ceremony once again due to the ongoing pandemic. UNM also held a virtual ceremony for its spring 2020 graduates due to the pandemic.   

“This is a sorrowful decision for all of us,” said UNM Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway in an email to the campus community Friday afternoon. “For you, our students, and your families, I know how important this celebration of your achievement is. Equally, for our faculty and staff, graduation is an opportunity to share in that happiness and to rejuvenate the energy that drew so many of us to higher education.  

“I’m sorry that we won’t be able to celebrate together in December. But we will recognize the accomplishments of our students virtually, and the University Secretary’s Office is formulating plans for this now, drawing on the lessons we learned last May. And we will celebrate in person as soon as we can – President Stokes and I are committed to holding an in-person graduation ceremony for all of our calendar 2020 graduates, hopefully in spring of 2021, if the virus allows.” 

Additionally, the provost’s office has also asked faculty and department chairs to work together to plan their instructional modalities for spring term with the understanding that the campus community will still be dealing with the community spread of the virus.  

“The spring term will look a lot like this fall term, with a mix of fully face-to-face, hybrid, and remotely delivered classes,” said Holloway. “We all know the value of face-to-face classes, and the importance of the critical opportunities they provide to engage in unscripted interactions that develop critical abilities in synthesis and analysis, and to engage in structured reflection to generalize lessons from the particular to the general.  

"All of these are the very foundations of wisdom. But obviously, this benefit has to be balanced against the risks of transmitting SARS-CoV-2. We expect the spring schedule to be out soon so that students can make their elections with full knowledge of the various pedagogical modalities for each course.

UNM’s Fall 2020 virtual commencement details, along with plans for its spring 2021 semester, will be announced by the UNM administration once finalized.