Northwestern graduation ceremony moved online, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to speak


Evan Robinson-Johnson, Daily Senior Staffer

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot at last May’s inauguration. Lightfoot was chosen as this year’s commencement speaker for graduation, which has been moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marissa Martinez and James Pollard

Northwestern’s June commencement ceremonies have been moved online, according to a Wednesday email announcement from University President Morton Schapiro.

The graduation ceremony will occur on June 19 at 9:30 a.m. CST, as scheduled. More information about the virtual ceremonies will be communicated in the coming weeks, Schapiro said, with individual schools sharing details about their respective convocations.

These plans come with the expectation of holding a campus event sometime in the future to honor the Class of 2020 graduates, the email read.

“I share our graduates’ disappointment that a moment for which they have worked so hard will culminate in a manner unlike that in typical years,” Schapiro wrote. “A virus will not stop the work of Northwestern, nor will it diminish our intention to create a graduation worthy of the Class of 2020.

Several Chicago-area and Illinois schools, including the University of Illinois system, have canceled or changed plans for their graduations in the past few weeks. The University of Chicago announced plans for a virtual ceremony two weeks ago.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be the commencement speaker, Schapiro said. The commencement ceremony coincides with Northwestern’s year-long recognition of the 150-year anniversary of women being admitted to the University.

Lightfoot is the first black woman and the first openly gay person to lead in the city’s history. She has also garnered national attention for her response to the COVID-19 breakout in Chicago, including her strict social distancing guidelines at the beginning of the crisis.

In the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis, the city of Chicago has the opportunity to “double-down” on its investments in its communities and transform the city’s economic map for many generations, Lightfoot said in a University release.

“I am deeply honored to be able to share this renewed mission with Northwestern’s graduating class as they embark on their own journey to remake the world as an inclusive, just and sustainable home for us all,” Lightfoot said.

The University is also soliciting ideas for virtual events from the graduating class through an online form to showcase their creativity.

“We, the faculty and staff, may not be able to give you a hug and greet your families this June,” Schapiro wrote. “But the embrace of the worldwide Northwestern community is still real, and it is lifelong.”

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