U of W celebrates ‘virtual’ commencement

Dr. Robert Gordon, University of Windsor president and vice-chancellor, September 2019. Photo provided by the University of Windsor.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way a rite of passage is celebrated at the University of Windsor.

With large public gatherings still out of the question due to the pandemic, the university was challenged in finding a way to recognize the achievements of the Class of 2020, which has faced unprecedented circumstances. To that end, U of W celebrated its first commencement in absentia in the school’s history last week.

This year’s Spring Convocation has been cancelled, so congratulatory video messages have been recorded by university President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Gordon, Chancellor Mary Jo Hadded, and University of Windsor Alumni Association President Beth Ann Prince.

“Please remember that we at the University of Windsor are standing behind you during these unprecedented times, and though we can’t be together in person we all share your pride in excellence and achievement, a job well done, and hope for a future full of potential,” said Gordon in his message.

The video messages were collected and uploaded to a webpage on the official U of W website, along with a digital copy of the official commencement program, listing all the students who have been awarded degrees and certificates. Graduates will receive their diplomas via courier, and a link for students to purchase diploma frames has also been included.

The university had switched to online instruction in mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared and the province of Ontario ordered restrictions on public gatherings. University buildings remained open but operated under a pandemic model with essential employees only.

U of W announced two weeks ago that online instruction will be offered for the fall 2020 term, though Gordon mentioned that the school will keep an eye on the public health situation through the summer and make any adjustments needed.