The Goshen College Alumni Book and lamp.

123rd commencement to take hybrid approach

Members of the Goshen College Class of 2021 will be recognized with a hybrid in-person and virtual ceremony during the college’s 123rd commencement weekend, April 23-25. The in-person commencement ceremony will involve only graduates and faculty.

“Following much discussion and discernment with many groups on campus, we are excited to be able to hold a live ceremony that celebrates our graduating students and allows us to honor them in person,” said President Rebecca Stoltzfus. “Our students told us that their highest priority is being able to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.”

All participants will be masked and seated following physical distancing guidelines, and graduates will walk across the stage in person to receive their diplomas in the Ruth Gunden Gymnasium. Families and friends will be able to follow along virtually, and there will be additional virtual engagement opportunities throughout the weekend.

“We understand that this isn’t the ideal situation for a commencement, but we are committed to the health and safety of our community, and we believe this plan strikes the right balance,” Stoltzfus said.

Many of the usual Goshen College commencement traditions will still take place in a modified form, such as the Baccalaureate Service, signing the Alumni Book, and the “applause tunnel,” a tradition that bookends the student experience and also takes place at the beginning of each academic year to welcome students back to campus. The Alumni Book, which graduates have signed each year since 1910, is normally signed by hand as students exit the commencement stage, but this year will be available throughout the weekend to avoid congestion around the stage.

Graduates will have an opportunity to show off their talents during a graduate showcase performance and reception under a tent on Friday, April 23 in the Music Center’s Sauder Concert Hall. Academic departments will hold receptions either in-person outdoors, or virtually as they see fit, and will communicate those plans with students.

Students have expressed understanding and gratitude that they are able to participate in-person.

“It is exciting that we are able to have a graduation, even though it may look different from other years,” said Eden George, a senior psychology major from Bangalore, India, and a member of the college’s Pandemic Task Force.


123rd Commencement Weekend Schedule:
*events will be live-streamed at

Friday, April 23:
7:30 p.m., Senior Showcase*

Saturday, April 24:
Department gatherings, nursing pinning (TBA)

Sunday, April 25:
11 a.m., Baccalaureate Service*
3 p.m, Commencement Ceremony*