Fairfield's universities will honor classes of 2020 and 2021 in person

Photo of Katrina Koerting

FAIRFIELD — Both Sacred Heart and Fairfield universities will celebrate this and last years’ graduates with mostly in-person ceremonies over the next week.

COVID-19 prevented in-person events last year.

“Graduation is one of the first steps in becoming an adult in the ‘real world,’ and I know that being able to walk across that stage on Campus Field will provide not only myself with closure, but will do the same for so many of my classmates,” said Anthony Smith, SHU’s 2020 student government president, who will be speaking at his university’s ceremony.

Smith said he is grateful for the administration’s commitment to his class over the past year.

“When so many other schools decided to strictly have virtual commencements, I think it speaks volumes that our administration was absolutely determined to do everything they could to celebrate our class,” he said. “In-person commencement would never have been able to take place for our class this year had it not been for their support.”

Sacred Heart’s commencement will begin Saturday with a ceremony for the class of 2020 undergraduate and graduate students.

The 55th commencement exercises for the class of 2021 will begin May 19. Ceremonies will be held next Wednesday and Thursday for undergraduates with the events separated by school. All 2021 graduate students will graduate May 22.

All of the in-person events will be on Campus Field, rain or shine. SHU face masks will be given out at the ceremonies, according to the university’s commencement web page.

More than 4,800 graduate and undergraduate students from the two classes will receive their degrees throughout the week, according to SHU.

Students and senior administration will speak at each of the five ceremonies.

“Commencement is a day to celebrate all that we achieved over the past four years,” said Vanessa Parrillo, the 2021 student government president and one of the speakers. “Sacred Heart has given us opportunities to learn, grow and succeed. I’m grateful to all of my friends and professors for everything they’ve taught me. Despite it being an unusual year, we were able to persevere and reach our goals.”

Fairfield University’s celebrations start Saturday with a virtual ceremony for the graduate and professional studies students for the class of 2020.

“Fairfield University is looking forward to celebrating our class of 2020 undergraduates, and classes of 2021 during a series of in-person events throughout the week, beginning this Sunday with the graduate class of 2021,” said Jennifer Anderson, the university’s vice president of marketing and communications. “We are delighted to offer our class of 2020 the opportunity to come back to campus to experience our longstanding traditions.”

The in-person ceremonies start Sunday with the 2021 graduate and professional studies students.

All in-person ceremonies will take place on Bellarmine Lawn, rain or shine, with health and safety protocols in effect. Graduates may each invite two guests to attend, according to the university.

The undergraduate ceremonies for the class of 2021 will be held in-person May 17, 18 and 19 with separate ceremonies for each schools.

The university expects to confer 966 bachelor’s degrees, 405 master’s degrees, 23 sixth-year certificates and 41 doctorates. All of the degrees will be conferred in a virtual commencement ceremony on May 23.

Judy Woodruff will be the commencement speaker for the virtual ceremonies. Woodruff is an anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour.

The week of celebrations rounds out with the 2020 undergraduates’ in-person ceremonies on May 22 with set times for specific schools.

“A special celebratory event for all members of the class of 2020 will be scheduled during the university’s Fall Alumni and Family Weekend,” the university said in a news release.