UT 2020 Commencement Ceremony Goes Virtual
By Ryan Chandler
Photography By Ryan Chandler
The University of Texas at Austin announced late last month this spring’s commencement ceremony will be held online on May 23. The change comes in light of social distancing orders that restrict the traditional event from bringing thousands of graduates and family members to the Main Mall.
The University says that while the situation is disappointing, they are planning an engaging event that gives graduates the celebration they have earned.
“We tried to create a moment that they can share with family members and loved ones,” University Communications Director J.B. Bird said. “We hope it has significance for them and makes them feel like their accomplishment has been recognized, that’s the most important thing.”
The University transitioned to online classes after Spring Break, leaving many soon-to-be-graduates to return home without fully experiencing the end of their senior year. Commencement organizers say they want to evoke nostalgia for the last four years, but ultimately stress to their graduates that they are ready to enter the workforce.
“You don’t want it to feel sad that people are seeing all of the things that they did… and can’t do now because campus is closed,” Moody College Director of Marketing Kathleen Mabley said. “At the same time we do want to remind everybody of what a wonderful four years [it was].”
The team is utilizing new technology such as Zoom and the online commencement platform Marching Order to bring a full experience to their graduates, including pre-recorded and live addresses from school leaders, photographs of each graduate, and a live keynote speech from noted university alumna Brene Brown. The ceremony will be much shorter than usual, expected to clock in at just one hour.
“Nothing about the pandemic should take away from the accomplishments of our students earning their degrees,” Bird said. “We want to celebrate that.”
Graduates and those interested in watching the event can find the livestream at commencement.utexas.edu. The ceremony will be at 9:00 PM CT on May 23.