Academics & Research Coronavirus News

UH colleges acknowledge graduates online, plan for future commencement

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

The springtime bustle of students snapping pictures in their cap and gown has been replaced by the silence of a near-empty campus.

While the coronavirus pandemic has paused in-person commencement activities, colleges across the University have acknowledged the class of 2020 using a variety of online tools.

Faculty and staff recognized graduating students in virtual ceremonies and shoutouts on the colleges’ social media accounts. These remote gatherings featured videos of well-wishes from faculty and alumni, as well as slideshows with the names and photographs of graduates.

Posts made on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter highlighted graduates’ achievements. 

The themes of resiliency and of continued goal achievement in the face of adversity are common features in the videos and posts created to honor Spring 2020 graduates. 

“Don’t back away from your goals and your dreams,” said President Renu Khator in her address to graduates. “Your goals are non-negotiable. Instead, adjust your strategies and find new paths to go from here. A new path will offer new opportunities to learn and to achieve.”

College deans joined faculty and staff in echoing sentiments similar to those Khator expressed in her address, offering online congratulatory messages to graduates of their college. 

“The grit and resilience our graduating students have shown during this time proves they can reach any goal they set,” said College of Education Dean Bob McPherson. “I encourage the class of 2020 to dream big. They can change the world.” 

In addition to University and college-wide recognition, specific programs have held separate events to acknowledge their graduating students. 

Entities housed in the Bauer College of Business, including the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship and the Program for Excellence in Selling, held virtual celebrations for their graduating participants, said Executive Director of Communications for the Bauer School of Business Jessica Navarro.  

 Virtual celebrations have been supplemented by videos, photos and filters on the colleges’ respective social media pages. 

The Kathrine G. McGovern College of Art opted to post short profiles of graduating students and photographs of their work.

The College of Education created an Instagram filter and story template on GIF moods for graduates to use on social media, said Communications Coordinator for the College of Education Natalie Thayer.

Instead of holding remote graduation ceremonies for Spring 2020 graduates, the University plans to hold a postponed commencement “as soon as health conditions and guidelines allow.” The rescheduled events will allow colleges the opportunity to continue their graduation traditions. 

“One of our wonderful traditions is hosting our graduation in the beautiful atrium of our building,” said Executive Director of Communications for the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture Stephen Schad. 

The architecture tradition not only graduates but provides family and friends a way to get involved as well.

“Family and friends line the second and third floors of the atrium and drop confetti at the end of the ceremony. We are ready to celebrate our graduates when we’re all able to come together again.”

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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