Virtual Celebration and Degree Conferral Will Honor UVA’s Class of 2020 on May 16

Flying man stature with the background being clouds that are blue, pink, and yellow

(Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

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The University of Virginia’s Class of 2020 virtual celebration and conferral of degrees will be livestreamed on Saturday, blending some features of a traditional Final Exercises ceremony with appearances by two surprise, world-class entertainers and an inspiring, student-driven performance – all to cap a year unlike any other.

The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. EDT, opening with the first surprise performer, followed by the premiere of UVA’s annual Year-in-Review video, which will feature highlights from a year unforgettable for so many reasons and forever influenced by the global impact of COVID-19.

UVA President Jim Ryan and the deans of each of the University’s 12 schools will then confer degrees to students.

More than 7,000 degrees will be awarded to the Class of 2020. Of the 4,250 baccalaureate degrees being conferred, 167 were earned in three years and five in two years’ time. About 3,000 graduate and professional degrees will be awarded. Approximately 750 people in the Class of 2020 are international students. (Diplomas will be mailed to students in June.)

A rousing, student-led performance will follow the conferral of degrees.

At the request of students and others on the virtual celebration organizing committee, Ryan will then deliver congratulatory and reflective remarks for the event, which serves as the official end of the academic year.

University of Virginia
Class of 2020 Celebration

Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 1 p.m.

Special Musical Guest
Year in Review Video
Conferral of Degrees
Student Musical Performance
Remarks, President Jim Ryan
Special Musical Guest
The Good Old Song

The ceremony’s second surprise entertainer will then perform. The approximately 30-minute ceremony will close with a performance of “The Good Old Song” by the 90-member University Singers, using special technology to merge the large group in a virtual setting.

The planning and execution of the special program is the result of work by a committee appointed by Ryan that includes students, faculty and staff. What you will see is not meant as a replacement for Final Exercises; it is to provide a celebratory, virtual experience to mark this special moment for the graduating class, to be followed by in-person Final Exercises at a future date.

Students, their families and friends can view the ceremony at UVA’s new Class of 2020 celebration site, at, on the official Facebook and Twitteraccounts of the University of Virginia, and the accounts ofPresident Ryan and the UVA Office of Major Events. The virtual celebration also will be recorded for viewing following the livestream.

“This is an extraordinary and unusual time, and we are thrilled to have an opportunity to celebrate the many accomplishments of our students – and to mix in some surprises,” Ryan said. “I hope this will be a memorable celebration, but we recognize it’s not the same as walking the Lawn for our graduating students and their families. We are looking forward to gathering again in either October or the spring of 2021 to see the Class of 2020 process down the Lawn for what I think will be one of the most joyful moments in the history of UVA.”

Planning committee member Omar Elhaj, the president of UVA’s Fourth Year Trustees, said the group wanted to be sure to keep everyone’s safety in mind as they considered options to eventually hold a Finals Weekend on the Lawn.

“From what I’ve heard, it’s going to be a very emotional and celebratory experience,” he said. “I think people have a lot to look forward to. The University put in a lot to ensure that students get the sense of closure that they deserve.

“We needed to be sure that a new date could ensure the safety of students, parents and faculty while being certain that we did not place too much stress on the Charlottesville community and the University community,” he said. 

UVA is holding the weekends of Oct. 9-11 and May 28-30, 2021, as options, depending on conditions related to the presence of the coronavirus, and will follow up with more definite information in June.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

Office of University Communications