Update: Oregon State University hosts online Commencement celebration

2018 Graduating students associated with DamDiverse pose under the Weatherford Hall arch for a photo.

Sukhjot Sal, News Contributor

As the on-site Commencement ceremony planned for June 13 has been postponed to a later date, Oregon State University updated its Commencement website to function as a temporary graduation celebration for graduating students. 

The website includes celebratory messages from OSU President Ed Ray, Associated Students of Oregon State University President Rachel Josephson, Vice President of the OSU-Cascades campus Becky Johnson, Executive Director of the OSU Alumni Association John Valva and Vice Provost and Dean for the Graduate School Philip Mote.

Safi Ahmad, a fifth-year industrial engineering student graduating this term, said the online graduation celebration was definitely very different from an in-person ceremony.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the little clips! Watching this from the comfort of my home was an added benefit. What was even nicer was that I could send this link to my friends and family all over the world, and they could watch this as well,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad said he was fortunate to have family nearby to celebrate with and is glad the celebration provided students an opportunity to come together as a class during this wild time, but looks forward to the fall Commencement more.

“I wish they could do more, but given the circumstances, I understand why that may not be possible. Today has been a day of celebration, and I felt that from OSU’s perspective. Given that they are also planning a fall term Commencement, I was very happy with the celebration we got—I now look forward to some version of an in-person celebration,” Ahmad said.

Along with a few other administrative figures at OSU, Valva and his Alumni Association colleagues contributed to the development of the online Commencement website and commented on OSU’s efforts to provide graduates with a celebration in a remote setting. Andrea McDaniel, executive assistant to the Provost and special events and outreach director of Commencement, along with colleagues in University Relations Marketing, led the effort of the online Commencement website.

“There’s earnest intent to celebrate this wonderful group of graduates in person this fall. Obviously, state, local and university authorizations will need to be adhered to as safety will be everyone’s priority. On a personal level, I know we intend to do everything possible to bring this together. The graduates have earned that,” Valva said in an email. 

When it came to planning the online graduation, as well as the in-person Commencement ceremony, Valva said there was no blueprint to follow, but at such moments, faculty, administrative and student leadership, alumni and community members all wanted one thing—to salute these graduates now online, and hopefully, later in person.

“Just like our Class of 2020 website says: ‘You DID IT!’ OSU has been graduating students for over 150 years and no class has dealt with what these graduates have. I hope each graduate leans on that resilience for the rest of their lives, knowing that adversity makes us stronger and smarter. And seniors, you are not alone. You join 210,000 Beaver alumni living and working around the globe. That’s your network, your family. Welcome, and congratulations,” Valva said.

In an email, Rani Borkar, chair of the OSU Board of Trustees, said it was an honor to be a part of the online celebration.

“This online celebration is one of many ways in which we are learning how to be creative and resilient and remain connected as a community—even if remotely—in the face of the pandemic,” Borkar said.

Borkar said she looks forward to the in-person Commencement ceremony in fall, recognizing it will be contingent on the status of COVID-19 and state and local health authority guidance on in-person events.

To students graduating this spring, Borkar said, “Congratulations. You have demonstrated strength, adaptability and perseverance in completing your degree. These attributes and your Oregon State University degree will serve you well in the future and as you take the next steps in your life. Believe in yourself. Think boldly and big. And always live by your values. And I wish you the very best.”

The site also includes special messages from college deans and highlights the stories of individual 2020 graduates.

A general statement to the Class of 2020 at the top of the website stated, “We still hope to hold an on-site ceremony for the Class of 2020 in the fall when travel and large group events are safe. Visit this site again for updated information.”

The Commencement website can be accessed here.

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