An email sent by President Carol Folt on Friday gave the initial details for USC’s first-ever virtual graduation ceremony, set to take place on May 15. The ceremony will be a formal cap on a spring semester defined by scheduling overhauls and the reshaping of entire curriculums in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ceremony is set to begin at 9 a.m. PDT, when President Folt and Provost Charles Zukoski will confer degrees virtually. Following the ceremony, each school will also host virtual celebrations.
Festivities are set to continue for the entire day with performances, messages from community voices and a “few surprises,” per Folt’s email. USC’s website will also host photos, videos and social streams to honor the newest graduating class.
According to the commencement 2020 FAQ page, there will be no dress code for the virtual conferring of degrees ceremony and “students who log in to view the virtual conferring will not be shown on the live feed.” USC is accepting media submissions from students, parents, family and friends that will be used as part of the day-long celebration of the Class of 2020 on an interactive media page.
All 2020 graduates will be conferred as a class; individual names will be called during in-person satellite ceremonies held at a later date. According to Folt, plans to host an in-person ceremony are “well underway,” and will be communicated as soon as it is safe to return to campus.
Diplomas will be conferred virtually, but new graduates can expect a physical copy to arrive in the mail approximately six weeks after the ceremony.
The broadcast will be replayed at noon and 6 p.m. PDT, and made available for streaming on YouTube.
Since first announcing plans to host a virtual ceremony, USC has insisted on hosting an in-person ceremony planned for a later date. When, precisely, gatherings as large as USC’s commencements will be allowed to take place is yet to be determined.
Last year, USC conferred 19,000 degrees for the graduating Class of 2019. Meanwhile, local officials have stated that large gatherings are likely to be banned at least until 2021.
Other schools across the nation have also opted to go virtual for their commencements, such as UCLA, Purdue University and MIT.