July 14, 2020
Dear Class of 2020,
Today I write with an update on our plans to honor you as graduates of the University. As you know, in the spring, amid the unexpected disruptions of the global pandemic, we began planning to provide you with an in-person celebration this August. After much deliberation, it has become clear that even though the events could be conducted safely if they were held outdoors, hosting such an event in August would simply not be an experience worthy of our graduates and those they love.
The postponement of your Commencement was already one of the most difficult decisions we have had to make, and postponing it further is even harder. But to host an outdoor event during the hottest time of the year with mask requirements in place would be unfair to many, especially family members who would have to endure a lengthy ceremony in the summer heat. We deliberated the possibility of an abbreviated ceremony, but to do so would eliminate the reading of your names and exclude the unique experience of crossing a graduation stage. We know how essential these elements are to you and to the overall graduation experience. While this tradition normally takes place at individual college ceremonies, holding a unified University ceremony in August would have made a lengthy ceremony even longer.
In light of these realities, the best way to honor our graduates responsibly and meaningfully is to postpone the 2020 graduation ceremonies until May 2021, when we will celebrate both the Classes of 2020 and 2021. Our reasoning for this is simple: The Class of 2020 and their loved ones deserve nothing short of the traditional OU Commencement experience.
In May 2021, you will take part in that traditional experience and together we will celebrate your momentous achievement. You will have the opportunity to walk across the stage and hear your name read at your individual college’s convocation, where we will honor both graduating classes. You will also be invited to attend the University-wide Commencement ceremony in the stadium where the Class of 2020 will be specifically recognized and celebrated as a group. Next year’s Commencement weekend is scheduled for May 14-15, 2021.
I’m sure this news will disappoint many of you. But our goal is to provide you the grand celebration you’ve rightly earned.
As ever, I remain inspired by and thankful for the extreme resilience each of you have shown. Your response to this pandemic is illustrative of the Sooner Spirit. You have more than earned your place as a member of our OU alumni family.
In the coming months, we will keep you informed as our plans develop to provide you with the traditional graduation experience you deserve.
Live on, University,
Joseph Harroz, Jr.