UR will hold graduation ceremonies online May 15

The University of Rochester announced over the weekend that it will hold its 2020 graduation exercises online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The university plans to establish a special website for the commencement exercises that will be available after noon on May 15, when it will confer all degrees online.  

“As I said to our medical school students who graduated early a few weeks ago—also online—while this is not the graduation you expected, you have worked very hard to prepare for this moment. You are more than ready for the next chapter of your life,” said UR President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf, in a letter to the class of 2020 sent Saturday.  “In the face of so many challenges, you continue to make us all so proud, and I know you will make the world ever better,”  she said, referencing the school’s motto, translated from the Latin expression “meliora.” 

She said the university will continue to look for a way to celebrate in person at a later date. Some colleges have invited the class of 2020 to join in commencement for the class of 2021 next year.

UR will hold this year's graduation online instead of on folding chairs on the quad. (Photo supplied by UR)
UR will hold this year’s graduation online instead of on folding chairs on the quad. (Photo supplied by UR)

Diplomas will be sent through the mail, but the online ceremony will include all of the graduates’ names being read aloud.  Some of the pomp and circumstance of traditional exercises in full academic regalia will be replaced by social media feeds attempting to link graduates and their families around the world though Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Full details of the commencement ceremonies will be available online at rochester.edu as they become available, the university said. 

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RIT to host virtual commencement

Rochester Institute of Technology will help its class of 2020 celebrate with a virtual conferral of degrees.

Although not intended to replace the traditional commencement, the May 8 virtual event will allow the college to recognize graduates and celebrate their achievements, school officials said Thursday. RIT  announced in mid-March that it would cancel its previously planned 2020 commencement ceremonies, but the school remains committed to an on-campus ceremony as soon as it is deemed safe to host one.

Graduating students, families and friends are encouraged to view the celebration at 5 p.m. May 8 at rit.edu/classof2020. The event will begin with congratulatory messages from faculty and staff, as well as remarks from Student Government President Anika Aftab.

The celebration will be made available on the website after the event for those who cannot watch it that day, officials said.

Students can order caps, gowns and tassels free from RIT’s vendor, Oak Hall.

David Munson Jr.
David Munson Jr.

“We are so proud of this graduating class, which has had to adapt to so many changes in the last six weeks,” said RIT President David Munson in a statement. “We look forward to marking this milestone on May 8 and celebrating in person in the months ahead.”

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GCC moves 2020 graduation ceremonies online June 6

Genesee Community College has announced it will hold a virtual graduation June 6 for its 2020 graduates, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 1 p.m. ceremony will be streamed online on the college’s homepage (www.genesee.edu) and feature a keynote speech by Peggy Marone, the director of Leadership Genesee since its inception in 2001.

The ceremony will also feature remarks by long-time president James  Sunser, some GCC professors and instructors and a reading of graduates’ names. (Graduates have to RSVP by April 27 to have their names read.) 

“We could not deprive our college community of this event, and postponement does not accommodate the schedule and the very real demands and obligations of many of our graduates who have jobs or are transferring to other institutions, ” Sunser said. “With a professional career in higher education for more than three decades, commencement remains my favorite day. It is always an honor and delight to watch the graduates cross the stage to receive their diplomas and see them celebrate with their family, friends and fellow classmates.” 

The commencement will also include “a robust social media exchange,” the college said. 

Details are available online at www.genesee.edu/commencement. GCC is also inviting the Class of 2020 to participate in person in the commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 scheduled for May 2021. 

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Roberts Wesleyan joins the pack with graduation postponement

roberts-wesleyan-logoRoberts Wesleyan College announced this week that it is postponing its May 9 commencement ceremonies due to uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Most other local colleges have already announced cancellation of their spring graduation ceremonies with plans to provide details at a later date about what might take the place of the previously scheduled commencement. 

Monroe Community College announced on Thursday that it will hold graduation in December instead of May.

Other postponements include Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Rochester, Nazareth College, St. John Fisher College, SUNY College at Brockport, SUNY Geneseo, Finger Lakes Community College, and Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School. 

Hobart and William Smith President Joyce Jacobsen shared with that campus community that the in-person graduation scheduled for May 17 is canceled, but the colleges are considering a virtual graduation at the same time, among other options. 

A decision hasn’t yet been shared about commencement at Genesee Community College. 

Despite the lack of ceremonies, colleges have noted that graduating students will still receive their diplomas in the mail, and their transcripts will be updated to indicate they’ve graduated on time.

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Former FCC chief to speak at RIT graduation

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration, Tom Wheeler, will be the keynote speaker at Rochester Institute of Technology’s commencement exercises in May.

Wheeler will speak at the university’s academic convocation, scheduled for 10 a.m. May 11 at the Gordon Field House. The convocation is the first event in the two-day commencement celebration at RIT.

“For more than four decades, Tom Wheeler has been involved in telecom, and the results of his work at the FCC—including adoption of net neutrality, privacy protections and increased cybersecurity—are still highly relevant topics in today’s world,” said RIT President David Munson. “Our graduates and their families will surely learn from his insights.”

Tom Wheeler
Tom Wheeler

Wheeler served the federal agency from 2013 to 2017 and is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and the Shorenstein Fellow for Media and Democracy at the Harvard Kennedy School. President Obama called Wheeler “the Bo Jackson of telecom” because he is the only person in both the Cable Television hall of Fame and the Wireless Hall of Fame.

His previous appointments and positions include serving as the president of the National Cable Television Association from 1979 to 1984 and leadership positions in multiple telecom and investment firms. He has written several books, including one on how Abraham Lincoln used telegrams to win the Civil War.

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Mattel CEO to speak at University of Rochester commencement

The CEO of Mattel Inc., Margaret (Margo) H. Georgiadis, will be the commencement speaker at the University of Rochester’s graduation ceremony May 20.

The second female CEO at Mattel, Georgiadis is one of just 32 female executives leading a Fortune 500 company. UR will present her with the George Eastman Medal, created in honor of UR benefactor and founder of Eastman Kodak Co. The medal recognizes “outstanding achievement and dedicated service.”

Margo Georgiadis
Margo Georgiadis

“I am very happy that Margo has accepted our invitation to speak to the College’s Class of 2018,” said UR President Richard Feldman. “Through her leadership, Mattel is reimagining the toy company’s products and redefining its culture to effectively reposition itself in a very competitive and changing industry. She has implemented a new shared mission and set of organizational values to guide this work, which is similar to the initiatives underway at our university.”

Georgiadis previously led Google’s U.S., Canadian and Latin American commercial operations and advertising sales. At Google she also co-led [email protected], an organization of more than 10,000 women in 45 countries who focus on advancing female leaders and encouraging girls to go into science and technology careers. She has also held leadership roles at Groupon, Discover Financial Services and McKinsey & Company.

The ceremony will have additional meaning for the speaker, as her son, Andreas, will be receiving his bachelor’s degree in computer science from UR’s Hajim School of of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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