Dear Members of the USF Community:
I hope that you are well and that you are taking care of yourselves and your families. Our highest priority is the safety and well-being of each and every one of you — especially at this very difficult, uncertain time in our history.
Most campus events are canceled for the foreseeable future. Through the end of the semester, we are offering online classes, virtual learning environments, and robust student support services. With recent announcements — including the City of San Francisco’s shelter-in-place order; additional guidance from the CDC around social distancing; and the escalation of COVID-19 cases across the country and around the world — we are looking carefully at all of our decisions and examining what needs to be postponed or moved online.
After careful consideration, we have decided that we will not be able to hold commencement ceremonies this May in St. Ignatius Church, so we are going to postpone them to a future date. It will also be necessary to postpone other campus commencement activities and celebrations until we are assured that we can safely convene as a community.
Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees will be awarded. As is our custom, diplomas are mailed to the addresses students provide when they apply to graduate. Final transcripts will reflect students’ degrees and their conferral date. We will send information as soon as possible to graduating students about procedures to obtain those important documents.
To our students: I know in my heart that this is sad news for you, your families, and your friends. For each USF student, commencement represents the culmination of years of work, learning, and significant academic achievement — as well as the joy and gratitude that comes from gathering with the people who loved and supported you along the way. Commencement provides our entire community the opportunity to celebrate what our students have contributed to USF and what they will contribute to the world. This necessary change in schedule is also sad news for your professors, deans, and mentors — and for me.
I am appointing a group comprised of representatives from across the university to study possibilities for alternative ceremonies and celebrations. I will charge the group with exploring creative ideas for how and when we will celebrate our graduates’ accomplishments here at USF. I will also ask the group to work as quickly as possible so that I can share an update with the community no later than April 15.
I share this news about commencement changes to assure you that we are indeed committed to holding ceremonies and celebrations at a future date, in a venue and format that will best honor your accomplishments as members of this beloved university community. I also commit to giving our students and families as much time as possible to plan travel and accommodations for this celebration.
All of us have had to adjust to many new realities in recent weeks, and there have been many challenges. This moment has required that we come together in new ways — even as many of us are working, living, and studying away from campus and dispersed across the country and around the globe. Already we are finding new and creative ways of relating and connecting to each other and the world. Guided by our Jesuit values that shape and animate our community, I am confident that each of us will find reasons to hope and grounds to trust that there will be much grace and many blessings as we learn to navigate this new way of proceeding.
I eagerly look forward to celebrating the amazing accomplishments of the Class of 2020.
My prayers are with you and your loved ones.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.