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Seaver College Spring 2021 Commencement Updates

March 26, 2021

As we approach the end of March, eight weeks before the college's planned commencement ceremonies for the Classes of 2020 and 2021, I am providing this update to all Class of 2020 graduates, Class of 2021 potential graduates, and your families. Rest assured that while this is a joint communication to both graduating classes, we continue to plan for and will deliver separate and unique commencement ceremonies for each graduating class.

As we near the end of the seventh week of the spring semester at Seaver College, I am confident that you are aware of the positive news we continue to receive regarding local conditions in Los Angeles County, vaccination progress, and the easing of restrictions both locally and at Pepperdine.

COVID-19 Conditions

COVID-19 infection rates have declined in Los Angeles County throughout 2021. Currently, L.A. County has an adjusted case rate of 3.7 new cases per 100,000 residents. Based on declining COVID-19 case rates and test positivity rates coupled with increased vaccination progress and health equity metrics, L.A. County moved to the substantial, or red tier, of the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Monday, March 15. If we continue on the current positive path, Los Angeles County may move into the moderate or orange tier of the blueprint in early to mid-April and maybe even into the lowest yellow or minimal tier by early May. Each tier is relevant because permissible activities and occupancy rates increase as the tier levels change from red to orange to yellow.

Limitations Affecting Commencement Ceremonies

Presently, we await guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health focused specifically on commencement ceremonies. However, recently the department indicated that commencement ceremonies must follow recently released State of California guidance for sports and outdoor live events. The relevant current guidance, by tier, effective after April 1 follows:

  • Red Tier - limited to 20 percent of maximum occupancy for guests/audience; advance registration required; in-state guests only.
  • Orange Tier - limited to 33 percent of maximum occupancy for guests/audience; occupancy increases to 67 percent if guests provide proof of vaccination; in-state guests only.
  • Yellow Tier - 67 percent occupancy for guests/audience; in-state guests only.

Current Commencement Ceremony Status

As can be seen for all tiers, state restrictions presently restrict all commencement ceremonies to California residents and limit occupancy to less than maximum capacity. It is possible to conduct either commencement ceremony with a limited number of guests per participant to comply with the relevant guidelines. However, it would be grossly inappropriate to conduct a graduation ceremony that precluded graduates not currently residing in California or the guests of graduates who are living outside of California.

For both Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 ceremonies, Seaver College and Pepperdine University continue to wait for the updated guidance specific to commencement ceremonies. We also continue to hope that with improving conditions in both L.A. County and California that public health officials will further ease restrictions to allow for the attendance of out-of-state graduates and guests. At the same time, we understand that graduates and families require time to make travel arrangements to attend these events. For this reason, we plan to announce a final decision for both ceremonies no later than April 12, nearly six weeks in advance.

Current Actions for Graduates and Families

In light of the preceding guidance, we strongly encourage graduates and families to avoid incurring non-refundable travel-related expenses to attend either ceremony until a final decision is announced.

All Class of 2021 prospective graduates should complete the Intent to Graduate Form through OneStop, if they have not done so previously.

Ceremony Planning

Despite the limitations currently in place, Seaver College continues to prepare to hold both commencement ceremonies and is making necessary arrangements to deliver both ceremonies as planned. Graduates can expect to receive ceremony-specific communication in the near future from the Seaver Dean's Office. As a reminder, all ceremony details are available on the commencement website for both classes (link follows). As planning has evolved, updated information on the date and time for each ceremony (if permitted) is below:

Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony
Date: Friday, May 21, 2021
Time: 3 PM
Location: Alumni Park

Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony
Date: Saturday, May 22, 2021
Time: 3 PM
Location: Alumni Park

Related Graduation Events

Similar to the Class of 2020's virtual Loqui multicultural celebration ceremony held last year, the Class of 2021's Loqui celebration will be held virtually on Thursday, May 20, 2021, beginning at 6 PM. Full details on the program and graduate participation may be found on the Loqui website.

In advance of this year's commencement ceremonies, President Gash will deliver a virtual commissioning prayer and message to all graduates. Information, including the date and time, for the ceremony will be forthcoming.

At this time, in-person division receptions for graduates, families, and the faculty of Seaver College will not be held due to space limitations that will greatly limit compliance with social distancing requirements at outdoor locations on the Pepperdine campus.

Contingency Plans and Commitments

In the event that state or county restrictions prevent Seaver College from holding a commencement ceremony or these restrictions preclude the participation of all graduates, it will be necessary to cancel plans for a May ceremony and defer both ceremonies to a later date. Should this be necessary, graduates and families should note the following statements.

  • Pepperdine made a commitment to the students in both the Classes of 2020 and 2021 to hold their commencement ceremonies in Alumni Park. We will honor this commitment no matter how long we must wait.
  • We also made a commitment that each graduating class would have a unique and individual commencement ceremony. We will honor this commitment no matter how long we must wait.
  • We made a commitment to communicate with you when conditions or planning change and once we have made decisions. This message and all future communications seek to fulfill that commitment.

Commencement Surveys

I want to thank all members of both the Classes of 2020 and 2021 who participated in recent surveys regarding commencement. Your responses affirmed your strong desire for an in-person commencement ceremony in Alumni Park and provided other helpful information that will guide our planning and decision-making.


As I stated in a message to the Seaver College community last week, things are improving. There are tangible reasons for optimism and hope that soon we can resume our lives fully. At the same time, we may not recover quickly enough to deliver commencement ceremonies in May 2021.

Regardless of what transpires in the days ahead, you remain in our prayers. We look forward to welcoming all students back to the Malibu campus and to heartily celebrating the accomplishments of each. To the Class of 2020, I hope that you are experiencing success in your post-Pepperdine endeavors. We look forward to learning more about your achievements and to celebrating them together. To the Class of 2021, as we enter the home stretch of the semester, I wish you the best in your remaining classes. To all students, I wish you happiness and health in all the dimensions of your life and self

Most importantly, in this season of Easter, I pray that the hope we are provided through Jesus lifts and sustains you. May God continue to bless you and your families.