ITHACA, N.Y. –– In a statement Friday evening Cornell President Martha Pollack announced that 2021 graduates will each be allowed to bring two guests to their commencement, a departure from plans announced earlier this month.

“We were previously limited to using only 20 percent of the capacity in Schoellkopf Field, we are now permitted to use up to 33 percent, with our graduating students seated separately and not counting towards that total,” Pollack’s statement says. “I am excited to let you know that this means that it is now feasible for us to accommodate a limited number of guests at the Commencement ceremonies.”

The announcement comes on the heels of New York state releasing updated public health guidance for commencement ceremonies Thursday. Guidance includes requiring at least one family/group member in attendance to sign in as to allow proper contact tracing, health screenings prior to event entrance, social distancing and proper face coverings.

Each graduate will receive two non-transferable tickets to enable their guests to attend one of the in-person celebrations. As previously announced, to keep density low the university is holding multiple small ceremonies as opposed to one large one, and is limiting the ceremony to include only Ithaca-based programs

President Pollack’s announcement goes on to state that, “many logistics still to be worked out.”

“Please be patient as we work to adjust our plans over the coming weeks. Additional information – including how tickets will be distributed, state-mandated public health and safety protocols that will need to be followed, and other important information – will be communicated directly with graduates as soon as the details are available,” it says.

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at