President’s Update: Students return to campus; Commencement ceremonies set for mid-November

September 18, 2020

Dear Clemson Family:

The last group of our on-campus students are moving in today, and I’m pleased to share that the move-in process has gone extremely well, despite some early glitches in our dining services that we have addressed.

I’m excited to be getting back to some on-campus activities, including our first home football game tomorrow and the start of in-person instruction on Monday.

This next step in our fall semester would not have been possible without an enormous amount of work from our tremendous staff and faculty. I am proud of the effort they have made on behalf of our students and am very appreciative of their commitment.

Testing Update

As you know, we are in the process of testing all students for COVID-19 before we return to on-campus instruction next Monday, and so far the results have been encouraging. Of the more than 4,000 students tested from Sept. 11-13, the first three days of on-campus move-in, less than 1 percent of students tested positive. Those students are currently in our quarantine and isolation protocol.

Testing of off-campus students began in earnest on Monday and while higher rates of positivity are to be expected from this group, the initial results are also encouraging: Of the more than 8,000 results we have received from those students tested Monday-Wednesday of this week, only 3.5 percent were positive for COVID-19.

We still expect to see an increase in positive cases over the next couple of weeks as we ramp up activities on campus, but these initial results indicate that our students have taken seriously the calls to adhere to best practices around face coverings, social distancing and hand-washing. Now is not the time to get complacent, however. I encourage all our students and employees to continue to exercise responsible behaviors so that we can enjoy a successful semester.

Commencement Ceremonies set for November

I am pleased to share today that ceremonies for our May and August graduates have been rescheduled for Nov. 13-15 at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville. We had hoped to hold ceremonies on campus at Memorial Stadium, but the move to November necessitated that we relocate to an indoor venue.

Specifics will be forthcoming soon, but we anticipate holding multiple ceremonies to account for proper distancing requirements. We have used this venue for commencement in the past when Littlejohn Coliseum was unavailable and the team at Bon Secours did an outstanding job. We’re excited to finally be able to honor our newest graduates in-person and we are already hard at work making it a memorable event. We also hope to have details about our December commencement soon.

Homecoming Canceled

We have made the difficult decision to cancel Homecoming activities originally scheduled for Oct. 23-24, including Tigerama and the annual Homecoming parade and float build. I realize that Homecoming is an exciting time for our students and alumni, and that it represents many of the best aspects of the Clemson experience.

However, our top priority remains completing a successful fall semester. As a result, some events and activities will continue to be held virtually or postponed due to significantly reduced capacities and physical distancing guidelines.

A Reminder: We’re All In This Together

This is a busy and exciting time for us. In addition to welcoming students back to campus, we are hosting our first home football game of the season tomorrow.

It feels great to be moving closer to the type of Clemson experience we all love, but we all need to continue to do our part to keep the campus safe. In fact, I shared that very message with our students and campus community yesterday in this short video.

As always, we couldn’t do our work without the continued support of all those who care so deeply about Clemson. We are grateful for all you do to help keep the University strong. And to our students – I can’t wait to see you on campus (wearing your masks, of course)!

Go Tigers!

Clemson University's 15th president, James P. Clements