November 6, 2020
Dear graduating graduate students,
We hope you are doing well.
I am writing to inform you of another compromise caused by the pandemic. Rice will not be able to host a December 2021 convocation event as previously scheduled. We hope this announcement gives enough time to avoid stress around making plans and to provide any anticipated guests enough time to cancel any travel arrangements. We appreciate that this situation will disappoint many of our graduating students and their families, who have worked for and anticipated the formal graduation ceremony for years.
Rice’s event policies and public health constraints will still be in effect in December, restricting the number of people who can gather to fewer than fifty. Hosting December convocation would mean hosting multiple small ceremonies outdoors, and limiting graduates to a single guest. December weather in Texas is often unpredictable, and thus an outdoor event could be very uncomfortable for graduates and their guests or the event might ultimately be rescheduled due to inclement weather. More importantly, with local, Texas and US COVID case numbers rising again, we do not want to do anything that might facilitate the further spread of the virus by hosting an event that would encourage travel to or from Houston.
We still look forward to celebrating your accomplishments! Students who graduate in December will be invited to take part in the May 2021 event, whether held virtually or in-person, and will also be invited to participate in an in-person ceremony at a later date.
I hope that you will find creative ways to safely celebrate your accomplishments, whether in person or virtually, and I look forward to officially celebrating with you in May 2021. We will make announcements next semester about the details of the May event.
Seiichi P. T. Matsuda
Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
E. Dell Butcher Professor of Chemistry
Professor of BioSciences