Syracuse University celebrates commencement—virtually

May 14, 2020

While it wasn’t the way they envisioned it, 3,800 graduating Syracuse University students celebrated 2020 Commencement Weekend—virtually. That number included some 470 bachelor's, 200 residential master's, 115 online master's and six doctoral candidates from the Newhouse School. 

The online degree conferral ceremony featured opening remarks from Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud.

“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,” Syverud said. “We all thank you.”

Student association president Mackenzie Mertikas, a dual public relations major in the Newhouse School and political science major in the Maxwell School, said, “Today, while we are 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.”

Both alumni speakers were graduates of the Newhouse School: Mike Tirico ’88, sportscaster with NBC, and Weijia Jiang G’06, White House correspondent with CBS News.

“I know that you all are very well prepared to take on this new world, with new challenges, and not only make the country better, but our Syracuse family as well—stronger than ever,” Tirico said.

“I can tell you now as an alum: once Orange, forever Orange.”

Jiang acknowledged the challenges faced by the Class of 2020 but said, “Our current situation doesn’t change everything you have learned in the last four years. Now you have to take it and carve out a new path… Work hard, show up early, stay late and always think about the next move you want to make.”

Academic departments at Newhouse celebrated graduating students in a variety of ways, from Zoom events to social media shout-outs.

Michael Meath, interim chair and professor of public relations, was named Teacher of the Year by Newhouse graduating students. Normally bestowed at the Newhouse Convocation Ceremony, the honor was presented during the PR department’s Zoom celebration.

Syracuse University is planning to hold a campus commencement ceremony this fall.