May 6, 2020
President Christina H. Paxson
Tags Alumni

To Brown Alumni: Decision regarding Reunion Weekend 2020; Planning for safe reopening


Dear Brown Alumni Community,

During these past weeks, it has been impressive, but not surprising, to see how Brown alumni are giving their time and talents to help the Brown community, our students, and the world navigate this global health crisis. This has not been an easy time for anyone, and many of you have strived to help others while balancing the obligations of caring for your own family members and communities. It’s inspiring to see our alumni living Brown’s mission of service during this challenging time.

I’m writing to share how the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect our community and Brown’s planning for the months and year ahead. As I shared with you in a previous communication, the University made the difficult decision to postpone Commencement and Reunion Weekend this year, hoping that we might be able to hold this important event as early as fall 2020. However, based on the latest health information and expert guidance, we think that large gatherings will still not be possible in early fall. For graduates and their families, we will mark the important achievement of the completion of degrees in Virtual Degree Conferral ceremonies taking place May 24.

I will be excited to welcome the Reunion 2020 class (those ending in 0’s and 5’s) back to College Hill next spring. The University has decided to hold this year’s postponed Commencement and Reunion Weekend in May 2021. This is both unique and historic, as we’ll bring this year’s Reunion classes and the Reunion 2021 classes (those ending in 1’s and 6’s) to campus to reconnect with their classmates and Brown, and to cheer on the graduates of the Classes of 2020 and 2021. It will truly be a memorable event for the Class of 2020, which will celebrate its Commencement and first reunion at the same time.

Brown’s Alumni Relations team will be in touch soon with more Reunion details as they are confirmed. Members of the Reunion 2020 and 2021 classes will be among the first to receive information about coming together to enjoy the hallmark reunion traditions — Campus Dance, the Commencement Procession, and class events where you can reminisce and reconnect with fellow Brunonians.

Brown’s Planning Efforts for a Safe Reopening

Many of our alumni often remain closely engaged with activities on College Hill, and I want to share Brown’s emerging plans for reopening the campus. Our first priority is to open in a way that assures high standards of safety for Brown employees and students, and preserves Brown’s excellence in academics. Currently, we are planning for a careful and gradual approach that will be aligned with the government of Rhode Island’s plans for reopening businesses and industries across the state.

How we conduct the year will be based on the best expert advice for safeguarding the health of our community and maintaining Brown’s high standards of teaching and learning. I shared with our campus earlier today that we are planning for a range of different scenarios for the coming year, including the possibility of adjusting the academic calendar, all based on expert health guidance. You can read about the scenarios in a copy of the letter sent to students and now posted on Brown’s COVID-19 website. I plan to make a decision about Brown’s planned approach no later than July 15.

There is still so much we don’t know about the course of the pandemic. In the coming months, we will learn how health conditions evolve as the U.S. economy begins to reopen, and how quickly innovations in testing, contact tracing and treatment occur. We plan to weigh these factors to make a better and more fully informed decision, which is in the best interest of the health of our community.

Again, I want to thank each and every member of our community for all that you continue to do during this challenging time, whether that is caring for your family, contributing to your local businesses and organizations in your communities, or fighting COVID-19 on the front lines of this global health crisis. Even though we are apart, I read every day about examples of the Brown community doing what we known for — making a difference.

As I shared with our students, I want nothing more than to see all Brunonians in person on campus when it is safe for us to be together again. In the meantime, I hope that you and your loved ones remain healthy and well in the weeks and months ahead.


Christina H. Paxson
Brown University