An unprecedented academic year that ends this week marks an unprecedented start for graduate students at the University of Washington.
To allow for in-person ceremonies during COVID-19, the traditional university-wide ceremony at Brookings Quadrangle will be divided into eight ceremonies over the next two days, May 20 and 21, at the Francis Olympic Field.
Of the more than 3,200 undergraduate, graduate and professional students who will graduate tomorrow and Friday, more than 2,500 will be in attendance.
Social justice and National Basketball Association advocate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will deliver the kickoff speech virtually to the class of 2021. For more on Abdul-Jabbar, visit the University of Washington source.
Abdul-Jabbar’s speech will be videotaped in advance to accommodate the eight ceremonies and shown on large screens at Francis Field. For graduates who have studied remotely in the spring and for families, friends, faculty and staff who cannot attend in person, the full ceremonies will be broadcast live. To see one of the ceremonies, visit the Commencement website.
In light of the Centers for Disease Control’s updated guidance on public health and COVID-19, released last week, the university will no longer limit the number of guests each graduate invites to attend. Originally, graduates were only allowed to invite two guests due to the limits of gatherings and the size of the crowds in St. Louis County.
According to advice from the university’s COVID surveillance team and the local health department, both of which advise wearing masks in large group situations, especially when people’s immunization status is unknown, the university will always require a mask for all faculty, staff, graduates and guests in attendance.
Chancellor Andrew D. Martin will preside over the eight ceremonies, accompanied by Chairman of the Board Andrew E. Newman.
Other attendees at the ceremonies will be Provost Beverly R. Wendland; Grand Marshal John Baugh, Margaret Bush Wilson Professor of Arts and Sciences; and Honorary Grand Marshal Ralph S. Quatrano, Spencer T. Olin Professor Emeritus of Biology in Arts and Sciences and Dean Emeritus of the University of Washington.
Wendland and the deans of the university will assist Martin in the university graduation ceremony at the respective school ceremonies. After graduation, Martin will deliver his message to the 2021 class.
The 160e The launch begins at 8 a.m. on May 20 with the McKelvey School of Engineering ceremony and ends at 8:30 p.m. on May 21 with the School of Medicine ceremony. Each ceremony will last an hour and a half.
In addition to delivering the address to graduates, Abdul-Jabbar will receive an honorary doctorate in the humanities.
The other five honorary degree recipients, all of whom will be virtually recognized, and their degrees are:
- Christopher S. “Kit” BondDr. place ;
- Richard H. Helmholz, Ruth Wyatt Rosenson Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School, distinguished scholar of law and history with expertise in medieval and early modern law, Doctor of Laws;
- Gerda Weissmann Klein, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Holocaust survivor who has dedicated her life to combating racism and intolerance and promoting Holocaust and human rights education, doctor of science human;
- Stuart A. Kornfeld, MD, David C. and Betty Farrell Professor of Medicine, Washington University, renowned physician-researcher, Doctor of Science; and
- Shannon Watts, founder of the country’s largest grassroots group fighting gun violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Doctor of Humanities.
Emma Flannery, a bachelor’s degree candidate in Drama and English at the College of Arts & Sciences, will sing “America the Beautiful”. The Washington University Brass Quintet will also perform.
Some of the graduate students were introduced through stories, pictures and videos. Visit Class Acts to see a sample of undergraduate, graduate and professional students making an impact through their advocacy, research, creations or work to improve equity in healthcare and efforts to build a stronger Saint-Louis.
Among the graduate students, there is also one whose journey from entering Washington University as a first-year undergraduate to graduation lasted 67 years. To learn more about Henlay Foster’s journey towards her Bachelor of Music in Arts & Sciences at the age of 84, visit The Source.