University of Vermont

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UVM Holds Online Celebration for Graduating Class of 2020

Campus shot with flowers in foreground
Photo: Sally McCay

The University of Vermont honored the graduating class of 2020 on Sunday with an online celebration featuring a video with remarks from university and state leaders, a montage of photos of graduates, announcements of student awards and the conferral of degrees. The online celebration was held in place of UVM’s traditional May commencement, which has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.           

Degrees were conferred on nearly 3,000 graduates, including 2,322 bachelors, 463 masters, 107 doctoral and 71 medical degrees. Among degree recipients were students from 39 states and 30 foreign countries. Approximately 952 graduates are from Vermont. The graduating class includes 300 students of color.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our Class of 2020 graduates,” said UVM president Suresh Garimella. “Not every graduating class enters the world at such an historic moment, and I have great confidence that the focus, fortitude and talent our graduates have demonstrated during their time at UVM will help see them through these challenging times. Each of our students can add the qualities of adaptability and resilience to their resumes. These qualities will take them far in life, and will help add great value to society in the years ahead.”

In the video, after a montage of UVM scenes that closed with the stirring “Pomp and Circumstances,” Garimella—dressed in cap and gown and speaking from a podium—offered words of encouragement to graduates. 

In his remarks, he referenced a poem by Rabindrath Tagore about a “mind that is free of fear.” That is “is not one that has never known fear,” Garimella said. “Rather, it is one that has encountered and overcome fear. The past few months have been defined by fear—and the many unknowns that lie at its core.  In qualifying for your degree, despite unforeseen circumstances, you have overcome fear. So, as you step out as graduates of this institution that has stood the test of time, I want to remind you of what you have accomplished, not only in completing your degree requirements, but in the way you have worked together to navigate new ways of learning while protecting our communities.  Importantly, you have also preserved the collaborative and inclusive values so fundamental to who we are as an institution.”

Governor Scott also addressed graduates, speaking from a podium in the State House. “Together, as a university, as a state, and as a nation, we’ve all had to make sacrifices,” he said. “We’ve all faced hardships. No one has been left untouched. But often, the best measure of character is how we respond to challenges. And you should know, the grit and determination of the Class of 2020 is inspiring to us all.”

Provost Patty Prelock, who assisted President Garimella in conferring degrees, also spoke. “Although none of us anticipated your final semester would end this way, I am proud of how you’ve risen to this unexpected challenge,” she said. “Your resilience will serve you well in your future journeys.”

Each of UVM’s deans, dressed in academic regalia, then conferred degrees on the students in their colleges.

The video celebration concluded with a montage of photos submitted by students, their families and friends.

Student awards are listed on the UVM commencement website. Those receiving Latin Honors—summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude—will be notified of their achievements on Tuesday, May 19. Individual college and school celebrations can be viewed here.