In an email on April 29, University of Massachusetts Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy invited graduating seniors and their friends and families to “an online celebration of the Class of 2020.” The celebration will take place on Friday, May 8 at 4:30 p.m.
According to the email, the online event will not replace the traditional campus ceremony, which will be rescheduled after restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak are lifted.
The 15-minute streaming video celebration will include a tribute by Subbaswamy and several featured speakers including UMass President Marty Meehan and UMass alumnus John Jacobs, the co-founder and chief creative optimist of Life Is Good. The 2020 student speaker will be biochemistry and molecular biology senior Grace Jung from Wakefield, Massachusetts.
“Other plans include musical performances and some very special surprise guests you won’t want to miss,” the email stated. “Students are encouraged to wear their caps and gowns or their favorite UMass gear and to post photos and videos using #UMassTogether and #UMass2020.”
The decision to host an online celebration came on April 14. Graduating students were able to order their cap, gowns and tassels for delivery to their home address at no charge.
Other schools and colleges at the University have planned their own video tributes and social media celebrations, starting with the Commonwealth Honors College at 6:30 p.m. on May 7. The College of Humanities and Fine Arts announced on their website that in addition to the HFA tribute, several departments will host their own ceremonies.
“All members of the HFA community are disappointed by the need to cancel public events scheduled this spring,” the website states. “Although we are sorry we cannot celebrate the successful completion of your undergraduate careers with you and your family, we are creating the best virtual event we can.”
At UMass Lowell, a similar decision to host an online celebration with a postponed in-person celebration was met with a petition signed by over 5,000 people calling for a reconsideration.
Kathrine Esten can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @KathrineEsten.