Sent to all graduating students April 10, 2020

Dear graduating students,

As we end our third week of remote learning amid a global pandemic, I want to acknowledge and thank our entire community for the ways in which we’ve navigated the unprecedented challenges we’re facing. A month ago, we could not have imagined the world in which all of us are living in today, and the impact of the pandemic will be far- reaching, defining how we live our lives tomorrow. Yet I continue to be amazed by the resilience demonstrated by you and our entire community, which has worked tirelessly throughout this transition.

I write to you today with an important update on our plans for this year’s Commencement. Though we have suspended the original in-person ceremony, Commencement will be celebrated in the following ways.

  • First, we will host a virtual UArts Commencement on Saturday, May 16, at 10 a.m. EST. This event will be live streamed and available to anyone. I have convened a task force of staff and faculty devoted to this project, and work is currently underway to deliver a truly unique and participatory online experience  that will celebrate and share the accomplishments of our graduating students. All graduating students will not just watch their Commencement, but also engage and participate with how it is created and shared. Consistent with all UArts Commencement celebrations, awards will be bestowed to students; student performances will take place; a valedictory address will be given by a graduating student speaker; exceptional alumni will be honored; and we will confer honorary degrees to two illustrious artists who will address our graduates. I will share that our honorary degree recipients this year are very special, and both are extremely excited to join us during this unprecedented time. We will announce both recipients shortly.
  • Second, in-person Commencement celebrations will be held when it’s safe and feasible to do so. We know that celebrating remotely is not a substitute for in-person celebrations. With this in mind, plans are already underway to host in-person celebrations by individual schools at a later date. We promise to celebrate again and in full force the accomplishments of our graduating students. Dates will be shared once we know when we can safely gather again.

More information about how graduating students can participate will be forthcoming very soon. Please check your email regularly for the specific instructions that will be shared on how you can participate in Commencement. It will be very important that you respond quickly as instructions are shared to ensure the success of our celebration.  

In closing, I want to remind each of you of why we are all here—why we are part of the UArts community. Regardless of our disciplines, I believe we all agree that creative practice is relevant to the world today. In addition, I believe that in a post-pandemic world, creatives will lead critical work for the world. You will challenge entrenched societal assumptions and conventions; you will celebrate risk and exploration; you will establish meaning and understanding of chaos, loss and tragedy; and you—especially our graduating students—will demonstrate the resiliency of human creativity.

To each of you, I ask that you stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong during this time. Now more than ever it’s important that we all follow the social distancing guidelines as issued by the U.S. surgeon general. Care for those with you physically and those who are with you remotely. I look forward to celebrating with each of you on May 16.