Northwestern University has joined the lengthy list of schools that will scrap their in-person commencement ceremonies this summer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but the school is still looking to pay tribute to the accomplishments of the class of 2020.
According to school officials, the university will hold its commencement ceremony in a “virtual format,” but promises to conduct an on-campus event to salute graduates at a later date.
“I share our graduates’ disappointment that a moment for which they have worked so hard will culminate in a manner unlike that in typical years,” university President Morton Schapiro said in a statement. “But our Northwestern community is committed to honoring them with all its heart. A virus will not stop the work of Northwestern, nor will it diminish our intention to create a graduation worthy of the class of 2020.”
The virtual ceremony will take place June 19, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been selected to serve as the school’s commencement speaker.
“I was incredibly humbled,” Lightfoot said. “For me, it’s a great honor to be asked to deliver this commencement address, particularly given that my own alma mater is a different one. Northwestern is very important to our city and to our region. It’s a great research institution and has a great faculty, and I love their president.”
Lightfoot says she will likely discuss the challenges posed to students by the coronavirus and other events, saying the world they’re entering as graduates is significantly different than the one they encountered when they started their collegiate journey.
Schapiro praised Lightfoot as a leader who “has broken barriers” and said the school is looking forward to her address.
“As someone who has broken barriers and expanded our sense of possibility, she is the ideal commencement speaker for us as we conclude our historic commemoration of ‘150 Years of Women’ at Northwestern,” Schapiro said.