April 9, 2020

Planning for a Virtual 2020 Graduation

Like many of you, I was disappointed to learn the University of Washington’s in-person campus commencement ceremonies will be not be possible this year.  

This change – along with note yesterday about the Parrington Hall timeline – represents yet another adjustment for our community, but I firmly believe that we will emerge from this challenging time with more resilience.  We will also be secure in the knowledge that we have done our part to protect public health, while advancing the work and learning that we are passionate about.  

I’d like to offer a few additional thoughts on graduation, starting with my confidence that the UW will deliver on the promise to celebrate our graduates’ achievements and the impact you are bringing to our field and the world.

As UW President Ana Mari Cauce wrote, this year’s graduates will be honored through a “live, worldwide and interactive webcast on June 13, 2020.” Graduates are also invited to return to campus to take part and receive special recognition in future commencement events – that certainly extends to our own future Evans School graduations, as well. More details can be found on the Office of Ceremonies website.

The coronavirus pandemic has profoundly altered the University and affected every one of us. Many of our treasured Evans School spring traditions will be missed, and the loss of these moments keeps us from fully experiencing the closure and celebration that traditionally accompany this end-of-year time.

But, even as our world has changed, celebrating important accomplishments together remains a defining part of our cohesive, impactful Evans School community. We encourage our graduating students to participate in the UW’s virtual commencement, and we are actively working on our own plans to  recognize our graduates’ tremendous effort and the momentous occasion of completing Evans School Executive MPAs, MPAs, and Ph.D.’s. Years from now we will look back at these events and realize fully their historic nature. Your grace in rising above the situation in which you currently find yourselves is contributing to your resilience, even today as you take in this news.  It is certainly contributing to my pride in all of you.

I want to thank each one of you for demonstrating such high levels of professionalism and commitment – even as your own lives are upended. To the graduating class of 2020: we know a virtual graduation cannot replace the tradition of receiving your diploma in person, but we will do all that we can to find ways to celebrate the shared sense of pride and accomplishment that you have earned. We are also exploring ways to recognize your achievement in person in the future.  For all of these new forms of celebration (virtual and in person), we will seek and welcome ideas from graduating students.  I look forward to being in touch with ESO, as well as our EMPA and PhD graduates, in the coming week.