UW-W Holding Virtual Celebration of Graduates on May 16

After having asked for input as to how to best recognize the UW-W Class of 2020 without being able to hold the scheduled commencement on Saturday, May 16, Chancellor Dwight C. Watson announced on April 30 that the university has decided to hold a Virtual Celebration of Graduates on the same date at 1 pm. Dr. Watson emphasized that this celebration is not taking the place of a commencement ceremony, which is hoped to be held on a date yet to be announced.

Although the graduates are obviously disappointed not to be able to be recognized in person on the originally scheduled date, social media posts in reaction to the announcement appear to be overwhelmingly positive. Zody Levin posted this comment under the Chancellor’s announcement: “Thank you chancellor for offering both a virtual commencement and planning a later date. As a graduating senior myself, we do not care WHEN commencement is, but IF it happens. I will wait as long as necessary for a proper commencement ceremony.”

The Chancellor’s announcement is shown below:

Celebrating our 150th graduating class


More than 1,600 of you are ready to graduate this May.

You are the 150th graduating class of this great university. You have achieved. You have overcome every challenge put in front of you. You are standing on the threshold, ready to fly. And I couldn’t be more proud of you.

Traditionally, we mark this milestone at commencement. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all know the ceremonies at the Whitewater and Rock County campuses have been postponed. Those of you set to graduate will graduate regardless, so we want to celebrate your achievements. And so, I am proud to announce that UW-Whitewater will be hosting a Virtual Celebration of Graduates on Saturday, May 16, 2020, at 1 p.m.

At the event, which will occur via Facebook Live on UW-Whitewater’s Facebook page, Interim Provost Greg Cook and myself will share some words, as will our student speakers, Brian Martinez and Alex Ostermann. After we mark the conferring of degrees, we have a special musical surprise to share with you. And we will also share our Warhawks Rising social media campaign, where we will see photos of our newly minted graduates and read about the achievements they are most proud of. Graduating students from the Whitewater and Rock County campuses will be contacted via their university email for instructions on how to participate in Warhawks Rising.

This celebration is not meant to take the place of our traditional commencement ceremonies. We know that many of you and your friends and family members prefer to hold in-person ceremony at some later date, and that is what we hope to do. Because of the ongoing nature of the pandemic and the Safer-at-Home orders, however, we do not yet know when such a ceremony will be feasible. Simply put, we do not want to select a date at this point, only to have to postpone it again for reasons beyond our control. We are looking at potential dates, including Homecoming Week, and will be sure to let you know when we have a firm.

These unprecedented times have changed how we live our lives and forego the traditions we normally experience. Although we cannot be together physically at this time, we can still come together and celebrate the success and achievements of our graduating students. Please join us on Saturday, May 16 at 1 p.m. for this virtual celebration of our class of 2020.

Go Warhawks!

Dr. Dwight C. Watson

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