2020 Commencement Ceremony

Dear Bilkenters,

This year’s graduates have had to complete the last part of their university lives away from their friends and professors, far from their beautiful campus and under very unusual circumstances. I would like you to know that I very much appreciate the way that our students, despite the challenges, adapted to these changes and rigorously maintained their work discipline. I wholeheartedly believe that our students who will soon earn the right to graduate from Bilkent University will draw on the knowledge, skills and experience they have gained to launch successful careers in the coming years.

We do not want our 2020 graduates to miss out on the joy of the commencement ceremony which they rightfully deserve, especially after the difficult period they have just undergone. In planning how we can best celebrate graduation, we took various projections for the COVID-19 pandemic into account and considered different commencement ceremony scenarios. After assessing the options, we concluded that a physical, face-to-face ceremony would represent for our graduates the most meaningful closure and the best celebration of the university years they are leaving behind. Accordingly, we decided to bid farewell to our 2020 graduates in small groups and in a series of ceremonies to be held at the ODEON in July. We plan to conduct these ceremonies on July 6, 8 and 10, in separate sessions per day. We will soon announce the date and session information for each department.

In light the of the current situation, we are making plans to take all the precautions needed to ensure that the ceremonies will not pose an additional health risk to the graduates, their guests and the university staff. I am confident that everyone will strictly follow the set measures to celebrate the graduation in safety.

To ensure necessary social distance during the ceremony, there will be a fixed seating plan at the ODEON for the commencement and all guests will be required to sit in these assigned seats throughout the ceremony. For each ceremony, one fourth of ODEON’s seating capacity will be used at a maximum.

In order to limit the total number of participants, each graduate will be able to invite up to four guests, on condition that the group sit together. If the guests prefer to sit separately, only two guests will be allowed. If a street curfew for certain age groups is put into effect on the date of the commencement, it will necessarily also apply to the ceremony.
All participants will be required to wear face masks before, during and after the ceremony and to strictly adhere to social distancing rules.

No commencement rehearsals will be held for this year’s ceremonies.

Caps and gowns to be worn by the graduates will be distributed just before the ceremony. Graduates will be allowed to leave the campus with their cap and gown and return them at a later date.

In the coming days, graduation candidates will be contacted and asked to confirm via SRS their participation in the commencement and provide the number of guests that they would like to invite. After ODEON seating plan is finalized, invitations with seat numbers will be sent to candidates.

In spite of all the precautions and measures which will be taken, some graduates and their guests may prefer to not attend a ceremony this summer. Those graduates who declare via SRS that they are not going to attend this summer’s ceremony will have the opportunity to participate in a graduation ceremony in the summer of 2021, (provided that the local conditions are conducive to a communal event at the time), and experience the excitement of a ceremony, albeit in a delayed fashion.

I wish you all a healthy and happy summer!

Abdullah Atalar