Commencement '20: here in spirit

COVID-19 meant that, for the time being, any celebrations would have to be virtual.

Mark Alden Branch ’86

Mark Alden Branch ’86

Commencement marchers, from left: Basie Bales Gitlin ’10; John Stuart Gordon; Jonny Dach ’08, ’13JD; Justin Zaremby ’03, ’07PhD, ’10JD; John M. Hunt ’18MDiv, ’20STM; and Norma Thompson. Hunt, who was graduating that day, had come to campus to walk the route alone and happened onto the procession. View full image

On May 18, President Peter Salovey ’86PhD delivered his commencement address to all 3,789 graduating students via the Yale website. It was the culmination of the most unusual Yale commencement week in modern memory: virtual pomp and circumstance, online speeches, concerts streamed from living rooms, and graduation dinners far from campus. The Class of 2020 is expected to come back to campus next spring for a yet-to-be-determined in-person celebration. But six members of the Yale community also walked the procession route on Commencement Day, keeping their social distance. “The idea of a year when that wonderful march from Yale through the Green didn’t happen—that seemed symbolically wrong,” explains Grace Hopper College fellow Justin Zaremby ’03, ’07PhD, ’10JD, who carried the Hopper flag.

You can read President Salovey’s message to the Class of 2020 here, read interviews with new graduates here, and read about honorary degree recipients and teaching prize winners on the following page.