Civic Activists Headline 2020 Virtual Commencement Ceremony
Wesleyan University will hold its 188th Commencement ceremony virtually at noon EDT on Sunday, May 24.
The virtual proceedings will be led by President Michael Roth ’78 and will include remarks from award-winning author and Commencement speaker Jacqueline Woodson, pastor and social justice advocate Rev. Dr. William Joseph Barber II, and accomplished actor and political activist Bradley Whitford ’81, all of whom will receive honorary degrees from the University. The recipients were selected for their significant contributions to civic life in the United States, including the example they set in spurring others to productive dialogue and action and in keeping with Wesleyan’s recently-launched Engage 2020 initiative, a comprehensive effort to support student learning via civic engagement and liberal arts education.
“I am honored to celebrate at Commencement these remarkable individuals whose work has educated people across the country,” President Roth wrote of the recipients in a campus message. “Through their creative and inspiring contributions, they empower and encourage us to work toward creating a better world.”
President Roth and the honorary degree recipients will be joined by Caroline Bhupathi ’20, a computer science major from Dallas, Texas, who will provide the senior class address.
Wesleyan will also award the Baldwin Medal—for extraordinary service to the University and the highest award from its alumni—to interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs Rob Rosenthal, and three Binswanger Prizes for Excellence in Teaching to Associate Professor of Biology Gloster Aaron, Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology Robyn Autry, and Artist-in-Residence Keiji Shinohara.
A Live Common Moment
Wesleyan will conduct the ceremony online for the first time in its history, in order to ensure the safety of its extended community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Held on both the Wesleyan website (on the Commencement 2020 page) and streamed on the Wesleyan University Facebook page, the ceremony represents a chance for the University community to gather together for a common moment in celebration of the members of the Class of 2020, who are graduating from and have persevered through one of the more unusual and challenging semesters in recent memory.
Come Together on Social
Friends, family members, and well-wishers are encouraged to post on social media using the hashtags #WesGrad, #Wes2020, and/or #TogetherWes, or to use this online greeting form to congratulate graduates and offer them advice as they embark on the next phase of their lives and careers. The University has made a series of digital downloads available to help friends and family share their excitement for graduates through story frames and backgrounds, custom graphics, and printable lawn signs and Zoom backgrounds of the Wesleyan campus. Additionally, Wesleyan apparel and merchandise is available for purchase through the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore online.
Additional Commencement Events
A full schedule of Commencement events is available on the University’s website. Highlights include an Athletics Award Ceremony at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 21; departmental open houses and social hours from around the University; and a Baccalaureate Mass at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 24. Friends, family, and graduates may also wish to view a special message from Rabbi David Teva to the Class of 2020.
Wesleyan is also planning an in-person Commencement ceremony for May 2021. More details will be provided as they are finalized over the coming months.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020, and we hope you will join us for this virtual celebration on Sunday, May 24!