The official premier of the College’s 237th Commencement Exercises is set for Saturday, October 17 at 10:30 AM. This event marks the institution’s first-ever virtual Commencement ceremony, a response to COVID-19 and the pandemic that has left its mark on much of 2020.
The virtual ceremony link will be posted here.
Despite the virtual format, the elements included in the ceremony are in keeping with a traditional commencement. Among other things, there will be greetings from select speakers, such as Ryan Zwier, the 2020 senior class speaker, and Steve Golding, the Chair of the Board of Visitors and Governors.
Sylvia Acevedo, former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA delivers the keynote address and will be awarded with an honorary degree, Doctor of Public Service. Two Alumni Citations will be presented to Judith Lynn Brucker ’86 and John Dimsdale III ’73. Interim President, Dr. Wayne Powell, will preside over the ceremony. The new name of Harford Hall — which was selected by the 2020 graduates – will also be announced.
The highlight of the ceremony will be the public conferral of degrees. Dr. Powell will officially confer the degrees earned and Interim Provost and Dean Michael Harvey will individually present each graduate. The virtual ceremony showcases a slide that includes each graduate’s name, photo and key activities.
In an email address to the Class of 2020, Harvey had this to say about what it means to receive a college diploma: “…represents an incredible achievement on your part: You navigated four years of living on your own, meeting all kinds of people, building relationships and friendships, learning new skills, trying and sometimes failing, learning how to succeed, gaining confidence, finding your voice, and discovering your passion.”
The virtual format does also offer viewers who log into a YouTube account the opportunity to post comments as the Commencement proceeds, giving spectators the chance to virtually cheer and send support to the graduates. Comments will stay up on the page.
All of the graduate awards normally announced in the ceremony were previously presented in a virtual ceremony held in May, but the commencement awards will be highlighted again. One other change is that the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award was presented at First-Year Convocation in August, instead of during Commencement. Dr. Alisha Knight was the recipient of that award.
The ceremony is pre-recorded, which was an intentional decision made for a few key reasons, including eliminating any potential technical issues that might disrupt the ceremony. It will be posted on Saturday 10/17 at 10:30 AM and remain there for an extended time so families, friends and others may watch it at their convenience.
Over the past two weeks, the College has been running a countdown that included “20 Things to Love about the Class of 2020” and photos of a “Wild Gus Chase” around campus, as Gus failed to read his invitation and had to search high and low for the ceremony. The countdown and his adventures are featured on the graduation webpage as well (spoiler alert: he found it!).
Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.