What to Expect During Saturday’s Virtual Celebration of the Class of 2020

President Jim Ryan standing under the cover of the Rotunda at a podium in graduation robe and hat with a film crew filming him

At the Rotunda, UVA President Jim Ryan prepares his remarks in advance of Saturday’s celebration of the Class of 2020. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

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Final preparations are being made to present the first-ever virtual celebration and degree conferral for the University of Virginia’s Class of 2020, set to launch Saturday at 1 p.m. EDT.

Students, their families and friends can view the ceremony on the Class of 2020 Celebration website and at virginia.edu/live, as well as on UVA’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts and the accounts of President Jim Ryan and the UVA Office of Major Events. The virtual celebration also will be recorded for viewing following the livestream.

The celebration will feature UVA’s traditional year-in-review video, remarks from Ryan, the conferral of degrees by the deans of each of UVA’s 12 schools, two student musical performances and appearances by two surprise world-class entertainers.

UVA Today touched base with two members of the planning committee who are leading this effort to get an insider view on the much-anticipated celebration.

Pamela Higgins, executive director of major events at UVA, has planned and coordinated decades of Final Exercises celebrations at UVA, including this year’s unique event.

Zaakir Tameez, presidential fellow in the president’s office and a 2019 UVA graduate, is co-leading the effort to make this a memorable occasion for all graduating students.

Q. How did the University come up with this virtual celebration?

A. Student leaders, faculty and staff came together to brainstorm how best to celebrate this important occasion. They emphasized the need for a high-quality, meaningful celebration that honors the Class of 2020, but does not attempt to mimic a real graduation and does not use Zoom. This virtual celebration is the result of their work.

Q. What can students and their families expect during the program?

A. You can expect a celebration that is worthy of the Class of 2020. It will include the conferral of degrees by President Ryan and the deans of each of UVA’s 12 schools, two student musical performances, remarks by the president, and appearances by two surprise world-class entertainers. The celebration will honor the graduating class and mark the official end of the academic year.

Q. How long will the celebration last?

A. The virtual celebration will last approximately 40 minutes.

Q. If people are unable to watch the celebration live, is there somewhere they can watch the event later?

A. Following the virtual celebration on May 16 at 1 p.m. EDT, the video will be immediately available for viewing on UVA’s social media platforms, as well as the Class of 2020 Celebration website.

Q. What should viewers do after participating in the celebration?

A. After watching the virtual celebration, please return to the Class of 2020 Celebration page. There, students in the Class of 2020 can follow the link for their school to view other school-specific content, including a message from their dean.

Q. Can you give us a hint on who the surprise musical entertainers are?

A. Nope! You’ll have to find out on Saturday. We hope viewers will be as excited as we are.

Media Contact

McGregor McCance

Executive Editor