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WNY colleges announce commencement plans for classes of 2020 and 2021

Villa Maria and Canisius will hold ceremonies for the classes of 2020 and 2021.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — This is the time of year when, typically, college seniors find out about graduation ceremonies and the plans their colleges have. Last year, many students were left with virtual graduation or a postponement.

Villa Maria College announced on Thursday that it will hold an in-person commencement ceremony However, COVID-19 restrictions will still make the ceremony a little bit different.

A little over a week prior, on March 17, Canisius College sent out an email to students regarding its ceremonies, saying they would do a hybrid commencement.

That was the same day the University at Buffalo announced it will hold 17 outdoor in-person commencement ceremonies at UB Stadium this spring. It's not yet clear if guests will attend, but it will be live-streamed. 


At Villa Maria, only students and staff will attend the ceremony. Families and friends will watch a live stream at home. Students and staff will have to wear masks and social distance. 

Villa Maria says it will reevaluate this plan if event capacity guidance changes soon. The graduation is scheduled for May 22 at 10 a.m.

“We look forward to honoring the graduates from the past two years,” said DJ Schier, Villa Maria’s director of student affairs. 

“Commencement is always a special time to celebrate the hard work of our students. This year’s class and last year’s class especially deserve this recognition after persevering and completing their coursework in the midst of a global pandemic.”  

At Canisius, students will have access to a pre-recorded ceremony with speakers and a slide show of graduating students, based on their class year and level of degree (undergraduate will be shared on May 29; graduate ceremonies will be shared May 26). The virtual ceremony will follow the same model as if it was in person.

Additionally, Canisius students will still be offered the chance to walk the stage in smaller "Graduation Walk" ceremonies. Families and friends, like at Villa Maria, won't be able to attend but can watch a live stream.