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Celebrating the Class of 2020

Syracuse University observed May 10 as a day to celebrate our graduating students with a virtual conferral of degrees. Our 2020 graduates have worked hard for this milestone, and they deserved the opportunity to mark this day, pausing to recognize all they have achieved. 

Commencement for the Class of 2020

As we continue to explore options for when we are able to hold Commencement for the Class of 2020, at this time, we do not believe it is possible to do so until after Thanksgiving. Therefore, during the week of June 8, our 2020 graduates will be receiving a survey asking for their preference for a ceremony to be held between Thanksgiving 2020 and May 2021.

Read the full Update on Commencement 2020 Planning message that Chancellor Kent Syverud sent to members of the Syracuse University Community on June 2, 2020.

Virtual Degree Conferral

Chancellor Kent Syverud
Syracuse University

Rev. Rhonda Chester, MDIV
Hendricks Chapel

Student Reflection
Mackenzie Mertikas ’20
Student Association President

Trustee Greeting
Kathy Walters ’73
Board of Trustees Chair

Alumni Special Guests 

Presentation of Candidates
John Liu
Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost

Conferral of Degrees
Chancellor Kent Syverud
Syracuse University

Syracuse University Alma Mater
Performed by The University Singers

Chancellor Kent Syverud:

Hello, I am Kent Syverud, Chancellor of Syracuse University. On behalf of all of us at the University, I welcome the graduating class of 2020 and all of your friends, family and loved ones. I stand now on Shaw Quadrangle, outside of Hendricks Chapel, on this spring day. We had all hoped to be together here on this happy day. That is now a hope deferred to the fall, when we plan to formally mark your commencement. But today, we will confer your degrees and you will become the newest graduates of Syracuse University.

Today, we honor your years of hard work and sacrifice and joy and accomplishment at Syracuse. We also thank those who have supported you. Faculty, staff, parents, siblings, family and friends, all who have supported you during your academic career, here at Syracuse.

Today, we are conferring more than 3,800 undergraduate degrees and 2,800 graduate and professional degrees. Our graduates came to Syracuse from across the United States from 50 different countries and from many indigenous nations. We talk a lot here about being orange and about the values that being orange encompasses.

In the last few months, the class of 2020 has shown us what orange truly means. No one could have been fully prepared for the adversity you have all faced but you have responded with resilience and with grace. Your creativity, your wisdom, your innovative spirit has defined the class of 2020 at its best. We all thank you. The class of 2020 has been achieving great things since the day you stepped onto this campus. Indeed, for the last 150 years, Syracuse University has been blessed by wonderful graduates. You all continue that tradition. We are all proud of what you have achieved thus far and we look forward to seeing all of the extraordinary things you will do in the future.

Congratulations and thank you.

Rev. Rhonda Chester, United Methodist Ecumenical Campus Ministry at Hendricks Chapel:

I offer this blessing for the 2020 graduating class. For the gift of life in this present moment, we come with thanksgiving on our hearts, holy one. Collectively, we seek your comfort and care for those who are struggling with the grief and loss that have taken up residence in their hearts in recent weeks. As the Orange Family, we celebrate who this class has become, throughout their academic journey and who they will be, as they continue on life's journey.

As this class steps into a world of unknowns and uncertainties, grant them full assurance of your ever-present presence, holy one. Guide them, protect them from the pitfalls of despair and fear. May hope exceed current realities. May joy and happiness be renewed. Grant this class of 2020 a vision to embrace their dreams, as they begin again on another path, may they be certain of themselves, yet open to adaptation. May the wisdom that they are good enough, prevail.

Class of 2020, go placidly into the haste and noise of this world, be yourself, be gentle with yourself, love yourself. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in difficult times. You are a child of the universe. You have a right to be here. Therefore, be at peace with the holy, whoever you conceive the holy to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, keep peace in your soul. The world is noisy and confusing and it is still a beautiful world. Be happy, be blessed, amen.

Student Association President Mackenzie Mertikas ’20:

In 150 years of Syracuse University, I don't think we've ever seen a year quite like this one. Not only here on campus but around the world. Despite the rapid transitions and unexpected changes, I am confident that there will always be at least one constant in our lives, our Orange Family. I looked up the meaning of the color orange. It is associated with joy, warmth, heat and sunshine. Not exactly what Syracuse, New York is known for. But orange is further defined by creativity, success, encouragement, change, determination and passion. I looked up the meaning of family. A group of people united by certain conviction or a common affiliation.

When you put those two words together, you get the core of Syracuse University, the Orange Family. This family is the mother you met on an airplane, that gets excited by your SU sweatshirt. She then turns to her seven year old son and says, "Tell this nice girl "where you want to go to school". It's the roommate you met in a Facebook group four years ago that will now unquestionably be a part of your life forever. It's the basketball fan that hasn't missed a game with 30,000 of their closest friends, in over 20 years. It's the professor that had the imaginary no judgment zone sign at the back of the room that always encouraged you to speak your mind. It's the acquaintance you pass on the Quad that you don't quite know but that always engages with a big, warm smile. It's the alumnus that is willing to help you find a job, just because you are family.

Today, while we're not able to be together in one place, I know that our common bond continues to run deep. I will never forget the connections I have made on this campus. Whether it was being together at the dome, witnessing the buzzer beat our win against Duke, surviving half of the snow days in SU's history. Coming together on the Quad on the first warm day of the year, or spending all night in Bird with classmates, cramming for an exam. I have a wealth of memories to take with me. These memories and all of yours are the result of the academic and personal contributions that you all made to the university, every day, regardless of classes or in session on campus or across the world, the incredible students that attend Syracuse will always have a home on the hill.

This may not be the culmination of our years at Syracuse that we all envisioned but being apart has allowed me to reflect on just how meaningful each and every interaction on this campus has been to me. When I first came to Syracuse, I immediately knew that this would be an amazing four years. What I didn't expect was for those four years to have the potential to impact a lifetime. I've learned and grown in ways that would have not been possible on any other campus. The memories that I leave with are truly priceless and that is because of each and every one of you. I look forward to seeing many of you here in the fall to finally cross that stage in our beloved dome, where it all began for us. To the class of 2020, congratulations.

Kathy Walters ’73, Chair of the Board of Trustees:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, it is my honor and it is my joy to congratulate the Syracuse University class of 2020. We welcome you to our alumni family. We join you in celebrating all you have accomplished over these years to reach this important milestone in your life. We celebrate you for your perseverance these last few months. I wish that we could all be together to recognize our graduates and we will be soon. In an uncertain time, I know this for sure. Your years at Syracuse University have prepared and empowered you to go into the world and lead the way. You are a graduate of a university that has launched luminaries in a wide array of professions. Their time at Syracuse was the foundation of their success and now it is yours. What we share in common is our Orange spirit and passion to make a difference. So today, you join a powerful network of Orange alumni who love this University and recognize the value of your Syracuse degree. Wherever you go and whatever you choose to do next, your alumni family is with you. Welcome, we know you will make us proud. Forever Orange.

Mike Tirico ’88, sportscaster with NBC Sports and Syracuse University Trustee:

Kathy, thank you and as a fellow trustee and alum, I want to add my congratulations. Welcome class of 2020 to the Syracuse alumni family. Look, you've been part of the Orange Family for the last few years, now you're in it for life, so welcome on board. I guess this diploma's now 32 years old and in those 32 years, I've had so many wonderful experiences. Family, friends, personal, professional and Syracuse has been a part of it every step of the way. I know the class of 2020 was dealt a really rough hand, probably the toughest year for seniors in our 150 years of Syracuse history. But I know that you all are very well prepared to take on this new world, with new challenges, not only make the country but our Syracuse family as well, stronger than ever. I can tell you now as an alum, once Orange, forever Orange. We're part of a great team together and even though this campus is not your home anymore, you'll always feel like home when you come back to the 'Cuse. Congratulations, class of 2020, welcome to the team.

Weijia Jiang G’06, White House correspondent with CBS News:

Congratulations, class of 2020. I am so proud of you. What you just did is not easy and I know this is a weird time to start a fresh chapter but your story was always going to have twists and turns because clean cut lines are boring. Plus, our current situation doesn't change everything you have just learned and how you have grown in the past four years. Now you have to take all of it and carve out a new path. That doesn't mean take a shortcut. Work hard, show up early, stay late and always think about the next move you want to make. You are ready and I'm so excited to see where you go, congrats.

Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu:

Dear graduates, families, friends, loved ones and everyone joining us in this virtual world. Graduation is always special. It is beyond the diploma you are to receive. It is beyond the work you've worked so hard for years. It is beyond all the stories you can tell in the years to come and it is beyond a moment when you are commencing a career. But today, this graduation day is truly special, that is beyond the ability of language to describe. It is special, yes, very special in a very different way for each of you. Today, each of you is celebrating about reaching the culmination of years you dedicated to your rigorous academic journey at Syracuse University, in such a special way. We are so proud of your accomplishments and confident that you are prepared to succeed as you pursue your own unique pathway that lies ahead of you. It is now my distinct honor and privilege to present to Chancellor Syverud our Doctoral Degree candidates in the Graduate School of Syracuse University. Our Candidates for Master's Degrees and Certificates for Advanced Studies and our candidates for associate and baccalaureate degrees from all the schools and colleges. Chancellor Syverud will now confer your degrees. Congratulations!

Chancellor Kent Syverud:

Thank you, Provost Liu. Following action by the University Senate and authorization by the Board of Trustees of Syracuse University, I now confer upon each of you the degrees appropriate to your course of study. The diploma you have earned gives you all the rights, responsibilities and honors pertaining to that degree. Congratulations, graduates!

University Singers

♪ Where the vale of Onondaga ♪ ♪ Meets the eastern sky ♪ ♪ Proudly stands our Alma Mater ♪ ♪ On her hilltop high. ♪ ♪ Flag we love, Orange, Float for aye- ♪ ♪ Old Syracuse, o'er thee, ♪ ♪ Loyal be thy sons and daughters ♪ ♪ To thy memory. ♪

Welcome to the Orange Alumni Family

Welcome. As a Syracuse University graduate, you’re now a part of a powerful global network. Our alumni want to share this special day with you as you begin the next chapter of your journey.

Share Your Proud Moment

Congratulations! It’s time to celebrate! Let the world know you are a proud member of the Syracuse University graduating class of 2020. Download and print items from our digital store below.