Announcement of Decision on Commencement 2020

Sent April 3, 2020, 3:20 p.m.

Dear Members of the Gonzaga Graduating Class of 2020,

The spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has had a worldwide impact on virtually every aspect of daily life, and with over 200,000 Americans thus far having tested positive, the timeframe for mandated social distancing and continued limitation on large-group gatherings is almost certainly going to be extended by various states and regional health authorities well into the Spring, perhaps even early Summer.

Commencement (a.k.a., “Graduation”) marks an important milestone in the lives of our students and their family members. It is an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable achievements of all those who have fulfilled the requirements for their degree and now can proudly claim the title, “alumnus.” I want to thank those of you who participated in our recent survey regarding Commencement and the many helpful comments that you offered. Having solicited input from students at the undergraduate, graduate and Law level, the strong preference – even if postponed – has been for an in-person celebration, which is our preference as well.

In light of the current pandemic, we have decided to postpone the previously-scheduled May Commencement ceremonies for Undergraduates, Graduates and the Law School. Instead, we have decided to hold Commencement ceremonies honoring the Class of 2020, in Spokane, the weekend of September 4-7, 2020 (Labor Day Weekend). This date, of course, is contingent upon approval and acceptability of such events by the State and local health authorities.

  • The Law and Graduate Commencement ceremonies, together with the Commencement Mass, would be held on Saturday, September 5, 2020.
  • The Undergraduate Commencement ceremony would be held at the Spokane Veterans’ Memorial Arena on Sunday, September 6, 2020.

Our hope is that by setting a date for early Fall, we will give graduates and their families sufficient time to plan, the ability to gather and celebrate in person, and the capacity to support return travel on the Labor Day (Monday) holiday. We have consulted with the local hotels and they look forward to receiving our students and families that weekend.

I do want to mention that, in conversation with GSBA President Michael Tanaka, we want to do everything possible to support a wonderful Commencement experience for each of our graduates. However, we have discussed the fact that for some people, the expense associated with returning to Spokane in September may be a challenge. Together, he and I will work to determine if we might find a way of helping to relieve the burden of this for at least some students. We will provide more information about this in the coming weeks.

I am very sorry that we must postpone Commencement this year; given circumstances, we believe moving the date to Labor Day Weekend is the best alternative. We will be providing additional information in the coming weeks. Thank you for your patience and understanding. We hope that you and your families will be able to make plans to return to Spokane for these celebrations. For further information regarding Commencement, please feel free to contact Academic Events Manager Angela Ruff at or the Gonzaga University Commencement webpage

Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.