Dear Campus Community:
When we began this academic year, we all had a vision for what this year would look like and how it would culminate: a traditional ceremony in Memorial Stadium to mark the conclusion of an arduous and well-deserved degree. At this time though, due to physical distancing restrictions, planning for a traditional commencement ceremony in May is not realistic or responsible.
We’d like to thank the 265 seniors who responded to the commencement survey and shared their thoughts on how to best recognize the Class of 2020. Based on this feedback, the Commencement committee is moving forward with two celebrations that I hope will provide graduates, their loved ones, and the College community with ample opportunity to honor their great accomplishments.
First, we will mark the original commencement date with an online celebration on Friday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m. that will be widely broadcast and made easily accessible to everyone regardless of their comfort level with digital platforms. This virtual end-of-the-year commencement ceremony will recognize other senior traditions as well, including Honors Convocation, Cultural Graduations, and Baccalaureate. Students will be asked to submit photos of themselves, along with a tribute message that can be in any language(s). Moreover, students can include honors, club/society/athletic participation, research and internship experiences, etc. to be displayed along with their photo and message. All seniors will receive an email with a link to the online submission form that will provide more details.
Then, we will celebrate in person with a commencement ceremony in a dressed-up Graham Athletic Center on December 19, 2020, at 10 a.m. It is expected that physical distancing restrictions may last into the summer months, but our hope is that in seven months’ time health precautions will have been lifted. That said, we need to remain flexible to the situation.
The truth is, there is no way to make up for what graduates are losing this spring. But I am determined to honor our graduates in the best way we can, with the options we have available.
While we may not see this now, this is a defining moment in the history of our country and the entire world. Just like it did for other generations faced with war, natural disasters, and huge cultural changes, the way we respond to this crisis will shape our future. We are being asked to make sacrifices for the health and safety of each other. Experience has shown that Poets always embrace the opportunity to do what is good for our community and understand that the actions of one person can have a deep impact far beyond the individual.
I look forward to celebrating with our graduates and their loved ones in May and in December. I also look forward to the day when we can think back on this time, many years from now, and feel proud that the Whittier College community got through this difficult time by coming together as a true Poet family.
President and Professor of Business Administration