Dear CMU Students,
I am writing with deep regret to let you know that we will not be able to hold this year’s Commencement exercises on the Pittsburgh campus on May 17 as planned.
To our graduating students, this decision – like so many of the past few weeks – ranks among the hardest I have had to make as president. You have sacrificed several cherished CMU traditions during your final semester, and it pains me to add one more. We already miss the unmistakable energy that fills every corner of this campus when you are here, and we share in your sadness at this moment as well.
Along with my university faculty and staff colleagues, we were looking forward to opportunities this spring, including Commencement, to come together as a community to celebrate your collective and individual accomplishments. For our graduating Ph.D. students, we salute the incredible works you have created as capstones to your careers as students. For our graduating master’s degree students, we appreciate the impact you have made on our campus in the time you have been with us through your scholarship, research and participation in campus life. And for our graduating seniors, we hope this circumstance does not diminish the special experiences you have had at CMU, nor the enduring bonds you have formed with friends, faculty and staff.
While it will look different, we still plan to pay tribute to your successes! We will virtually confer degrees at the end of the semester, and we are exploring ways we can celebrate the Class of 2020’s outstanding achievements together on campus in the next academic year. We are also looking into other creative ways to connect with this cohort of graduates, whether in Pittsburgh or in other areas around the world. We will share details about these programs with students and families as they are confirmed.
As with the other unparalleled steps we have taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have come to this decision in order to protect the health and well-being of our entire community and to comply with guidance by the CDC to avoid large gatherings. We also are making this call now to provide this year’s graduates and their families with as much time as possible to plan accordingly.
To all CMU students: I am unbelievably proud of the many ways you have risen to the occasion and pulled together to get through these recent challenges, one day at a time. Over the coming months, you will continue to prove that being a Tartan goes beyond any physical location, and that our community truly comes to life in the connections we share with one another. These lifelines are more valuable than ever before, and I encourage all of us to nurture them however we can. Please keep in touch with your friends via video chat, phone, or text message! These (virtual) check-ins will help sustain your emotional, physical and mental health during this quarantine.
It is nearly impossible to overstate how challenging and distressing this unfolding crisis has been for communities around the world, but I continue to be inspired by the ways our CMU family has responded with patience, fortitude and relentless optimism. I am especially grateful to the faculty and staff who have been working around-the-clock to ensure the best possible remote learning experience and to support you as you adapt to a technology-enhanced, online education and experience.
Life will eventually return to normal, and we look forward to welcoming returning students back to campus again. For those of you who will graduate this May, we look forward to welcoming you back as alumni. In the meantime, keep your spirits up, continue to support and look out for one another, and take pride in being part of the CMU family.
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair
Carnegie Mellon University