The University of Chicago is planning a virtual Convocation ceremony for June 2020 rather than holding an in-person event, in response to current guidance from public health officials regarding COVID-19.
The virtual ceremony will take place on June 13, to confer degrees and celebrate the dedication and accomplishments of the Class of 2020. The University is preparing to deliver the physical diploma to each student who receives the degree as soon as possible thereafter. In addition to the virtual Convocation ceremony, the University is inviting all graduates in the Class of 2020 to return to campus in June 2021 and participate fully in Convocation ceremonies.
The decision to hold virtual ceremonies was informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials, as well as UChicago faculty and physicians working on the forefront of the coronavirus response. Given their understanding of the trajectory of the pandemic, it is not practical or responsible to proceed with planning an in-person gathering of more than 15,000 people.
“The decisions we face now are difficult ones, but we must take our responsibility to each other and to the broader communities of which we are a part with the utmost seriousness,” wrote President Robert J. Zimmer and Provost Ka Yee C. Lee in a message to the UChicago community. “We share your disappointment in this news but remain confident that we will find appropriate ways as a University community to celebrate the Class of 2020 in ways both singular and enduring.”
Since 1893, the University’s Convocation has brought together all elements of the University community: degree candidates and their families, alumni, friends, faculty, staff members, deans, officers and trustees of the University, the provost, and the president. Although the University cannot come together on campus in June, the importance of recognizing students’ collective academic accomplishments and conferring degrees remains. Inviting all graduates in the Class of 2020 to return to campus in June 2021 will provide an opportunity for a special acknowledgement and celebration of the accomplishments of 2020 graduates in the presence of faculty, students’ families, and the broader community.
In addition to the university-wide virtual Convocation ceremony, deans and deans of students are working to develop individualized virtual or in-person activities for diploma ceremonies. The Convocation website will be updated regularly as new information about the virtual Convocation ceremony, diploma ceremonies and other activities for the Class of 2020 becomes available.