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UB commencements have gone virtual, but there's still plenty of ways to celebrate


Tue, May 12th 2020 03:20 pm

Online events include virtual toast to Class of 2020

By the University at Buffalo

Some 6,027 University at Buffalo students are candidates to receive 6,600 degrees and certificates this commencement season.

And while the COVID-19 crisis has made “virtual commencements” the norm this year for colleges and universities across the country, the celebration will go on at UB, with units across campus working together to ensure this virtual commencement season is joyous and memorable for students and their families.

“This marks UB’s 174th commencement exercises, and our first virtual commencement ceremonies,” said UB President Satish K. Tripathi. “Although we have never celebrated our graduates in this manner, the essence of our commencement tradition remains fundamentally unchanged, thanks to our Class of 2020’s steadfast commitment to uphold UB’s mission and vision of excellence.”

There will be a mortarboard decorating contest; a UB Class of 2020 interactive photo mosaic; a virtual toast, where UB seniors are encouraged to come together at 2 p.m. May 13 for a simultaneous toast and social media post; and virtual swag that students and their loved ones can use to enhance social media posts with UB-themed backgrounds, Instagram lenses and cut-outs of Little Victor, the digital version of UB mascot Victor E. Bull.

UB hopes to recognize 2020 graduates during on-campus commencement at a later date.

Each virtual commencement will take place via a common web platform, which provides universitywide standardization while allowing each school or college to modify its individual commencement site to meet its needs.

All the sites will feature several video elements, including an open declaration, a welcome from Provost A. Scott Weber, remarks from Tripathi and remarks from the unit’s dean.

The units can add more video elements in keeping with their traditional in-person ceremonies, such as remarks from student speakers or an alumni message, or social media elements.

All sites will feature slides of each graduate. Each school or college will have a specific link for its commencement site, which will go live at the time and date the unit has selected for its ceremony.

Commencement season at UB began May 1 with the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences MD program, and continued May 8 with the School of Dental Medicine. The festivities ramp up this weekend, with 12 virtual commencements taking place between Friday and Sunday. UB’s Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program will hold its virtual commencement May 20.

While the celebrations have gone virtual, a number of units across campus joined together to create #UBClassof2020, a campaign designed to bring the excitement of traditional commencement into the virtual world.

The initiative takes a two-pronged approach. The social media aspect encourages graduates, their families and other members of the UB community to use the hashtag #UBClassof2020 when posting photos, well wishes and congratulatory messages to social media.

The second aspect is a special microsite, also dubbed #UBClassof2020, that will provide a home for all the social media posts from the campaign, as well as tools that graduates, their families and others can use to make their posts more special, and add festive elements to enhance their personal celebrations at home and make them more memorable.

The microsite will be accessible through the end of May. 

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