Arizona State University's spring 2020 commencement and convocation ceremonies will have many of the familiar feelings as past commencements: Graduates will hear their name called; relatives will smile or cry, or both; and the moment will mark the end of one chapter and the exciting start of another.
And though many graduates will likely still decorate their caps and turn their tassels, this commencement will be unique. The May 11 event will be an online celebration, a break from tradition forced by the spread of the novel coronavirus that is making its way around the globe.
ASU President Michael M. Crow will provide opening remarks, and the ceremony will include virtual messages from commencement speakers, notable alumni and the undergraduate student government president.
“We may not be able to share the same space, but we will share the same spirit of accomplishment. Sun Devil Nation is going to celebrate,” Crow said. “We will continue with the same spirit that drove us earlier in the semester when classes were moved to an online format. We will continue to move forward.”
In addition to the virtual ceremony on May 11, graduates will have the opportunity to attend future ceremonies in person if they choose, including the December 2020 or spring 2021 ceremonies.
Colleges and schools will also host virtual convocation ceremonies for their graduates and highlight their Outstanding Graduates for spring 2020.
All ceremonies will be on YouTube where viewers can watch, participate and experience the event together.
“This is an important event for ASU to recognize student achievement,” Provost Mark Searle said. “It is the culmination of hard work, fulfillment of personal commitments and a celebration of significant accomplishments by our students.”
“This decision was inevitable considering the life-altering conditions we are facing, but it is still an outcome we wish we could avoid,” he said. “By our nature though, ASU is an optimistic community. We want students to know that we believe that the future will be better and we will not allow our current circumstances to stop us from celebrating your success.”
If students choose not to take part in any ceremony and all university academic requirements are met, graduating students will receive their diplomas in the mail.
“As we push forward to make this happen, I am mindful of the disappointment that graduating students and their families likely share in this moment,” Crow said. “As a first-generation college graduate who came from a family where college graduation was a life-changing achievement, I can appreciate the anticipation of reaching this defining milestone. This will mean celebrating our graduates in a different way, but we will be celebrating our graduates.”
The virtual ceremony will include:
- A “year in review” video including messages from students looking toward their futures.
- Congratulatory video messages from high-profile alumni and special guests.
- A virtual cap and gown photo.
- A moment for each graduate with their name, photo, degree and a comment from them about graduation.
The May ceremony will also highlight a diverse spring 2020 class that includes more than 18,000 graduates.