Dear Members of the USF Community,
Thanks to all members of our community for your patience and input as our commencement working group, with student, faculty, and staff representatives, tackled the many questions, uncertainties, and challenges related to planning ceremonies and celebrations for our graduating seniors and graduate students this May.
As mentioned in my message to you in March, traditional on-campus commencement ceremonies will not be held in May given the continuing uncertainties surrounding when and how USF will return to “normalcy.” With the safety and well-being of our community in mind, our working group has proceeded with creativity and sensitivity to put together excellent recommendations that we hope will give our graduates the recognition they deserve in the midst of this challenging time. Here’s what they have proposed and I have agreed upon.
- We will plan “Mark the Day” celebrations for the Class of 2020 to coincide with the day they would be graduating. Students will receive more information in the days to follow, but I’m pleased with the ideas generated by the working group; we will endeavor to bring elements of graduation to our graduates — and provide opportunities for them to share their accomplishments on USF’s websites, social media, and a number of other channels. This decision is based on feedback from graduates, including the student representatives on the working group.
- We will create a centralized Class of 2020 hub on the university website to announce school- and college-specific events.
- Graduating students will receive their caps and gowns by mail, so graduates can celebrate with families and friends and share photos, videos, and social media posts.
- As soon as it is safe to do so, USF will invite the Class of 2020 to return to campus — in person — to be celebrated. We will continue conversations with representatives from the graduating class, and students will receive more information as these details are finalized.
Commencement is among the important events of our students’ lives, an opportunity to celebrate their achievements with loved ones. I know we all feel a deep sense of disappointment that we will not be able to gather with our students in St. Ignatius Church this May. I look forward to the day when we can come together on campus to honor our students and give thanks to all who supported them throughout their academic journeys. I am confident it will be all the more meaningful to celebrate the success of our Class of 2020 who persevered through this unprecedented time.
Therefore, much more information will follow. Please watch for more details from me and others at USF regarding commencement matters. In the meantime, I wish you peace and calm as we navigate this uncertainty. I pray you and your families are safe and well. I thank you for your work on behalf of our university’s mission, vision, and values. In today’s world, the education that USF offers is needed more than ever before.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.