Inside an empty Ohio Stadium and homes across Buckeye Nation, friends and family of nearly 13,000 graduates celebrated a virtual commencement for The Ohio State University class of 2020.
It was a unique celebration, a safe ceremony during a deadly pandemic. The university’s swift response to COVID-19 included planning a virtual ceremony when restrictions on large gatherings made an in-person celebration impossible.
“It is an honor and a privilege to share this time with you and your families and friends. We are not here together. We wanted to recognize your incredible accomplishments, nevertheless, on this day,” said President Michael V. Drake. “These are extraordinary times that have affected everything in our lives, including the way you completed your journey at Ohio State. We’ll celebrate today, and then look forward to a future joyous celebration when we are able to come back together in the ’Shoe.”
The program inside the stadium included Drake and a small number of university officials in traditional commencement regalia. Graduates filled social media with photos in their caps and gowns from remote locations around the nation, congregating under the #OSUGrad hashtag.
It was livestreamed and broadcast on WOSU TV and The Ohio Channel. At one point, the livestream had nearly 20,000 views.
The university awarded a record 12,967 degrees and certificates to its largest-ever graduating class.
“It must be acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken many things away from us over the past several weeks,” said Vice President for Student Life Melissa Shivers as she opened the ceremony. “But what can never be taken away from you, from your families, from your loved ones, from your friends, is the immense pride I hope that you all feel in this moment, and for the rest of your days.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered the commencement address via a video in his office. He celebrated the resilience of this class and called on graduates to rise to this new challenge.
“When our glittering plans are scrambled, as they often will be, and our dearest hopes were dashed, as will sometimes happen, we’re left with a choice. We can curse the loss of something that was never going to be or we can see reasons to be grateful for the yank on the scruff of the neck and in having our eyes lifted up from the story we were writing for ourselves and turn instead to a remade world,” he said.
To read on about commencement and to watch the virtual commencement ceremony, click here.