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Commencement Update: Celebrating the Class of 2020

--The following message was sent to Emory students who will be graduating in the spring of 2020--

Dear Emory Class of 2020,

Emory’s Commencement ceremonies represent a soaring pinnacle of student achievement as our entire academic community comes together — along with beloved family and friends — to celebrate the culmination of your academic journey. We understand and share in your sense of loss not only for the formal Commencement festivities, but also for the very personal farewell and “thank you” moments with friends, faculty, mentors, and staff. While these in-person moments will have to wait for another day, we are eager to join your family and friends in celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of your class in May.

Over the past few weeks, a Commencement Task Force has gathered invaluable ideas and input from students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Students specifically — both undergraduate and graduate — were integral in guiding the final decisions and shared valuable feedback regarding key aspects of the traditional event they hold most dear. The goal was to create meaningful experiences that honor some of our beloved Commencement traditions and invite your voices to be part of the celebration in a way that can be preserved and cherished for years to come.

In addition to the individual school events, a new interactive website will launch on May 4, to allow the entire community — family, friends, faculty members, staff, alumni and students — to honor graduates through uploaded messages, photos, and videos celebrating both your time within the Emory community and your induction as our newest alumni class. One website example is the “Y/our Moment,” a short film that helps tell the story of the Class of 2020 from your perspective and that of your faculty. These videos, along with many other ceremonial and celebratory pieces, will be featured on the website and shareable with your network of friends and family.

We hope that you will take the time to engage in these interactive opportunities and add your personal thoughts and memories. Throughout the week of May 4, several other events will be featured on the site including Class Day and Baccalaureate presentations. Oxford College and several of Emory’s schools will host unique live and recorded award presentations and ceremonies, all leading up to the special events on May 11 when your degrees will be conferred (Oxford will be conferred on May 9). One special opportunity on that day will be an interactive address from our 2020 Commencement speaker, Bryan Stevenson, acclaimed human rights lawyer, activist, founder, and executive director of the Montgomery, Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative.

Rest assured, Emory plans to invite graduates from the class of 2020 back to campus to gather, celebrate, and be recognized with family and friends. In today’s uncertain environment, we do not know the date that may be possible or exactly what the Commencement celebrations will look like —but we are committed to figuring out a path forward with you, Class of 2020. We know how important this is to so many of you and acknowledge the challenges that segments of the class may face in attending a future event on campus. The feedback of student representatives has been a critical part of the Commencement planning process and will remain so as we plan for these celebrations.

In the meantime, we hope that these special Commencement activities, both university-wide and from your schools, will provide a real sense of completion and acknowledgement of a job well done under extraordinary circumstances. You’ve earned it, and we cannot wait to share in these experiences with you. We applaud your accomplishments, and look forward to joining you online soon, and in-person very soon.


Claire E. Sterk, President

Jan Love, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Christopher L. Augostini, Executive Vice President for Business and Administration, Chief Financial Officer

Jonathan S. Lewin, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center, President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare

Joshua R. Newton, Senior Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement

Enku Gelaye, Vice President and Dean of Campus Life