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  • Amanda Rubalcava
  • Christine Clark

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  • Amanda Rubalcava
  • Christine Clark

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Virtual Commencement Uses Creative Ways to Infuse University Tradition with Interactive Fun

graduating students

From a national anthem mashup to a keynote by CBS journalist Bill Whitaker, UC San Diego celebrates achievements of Class of 2020 June 13

With COVID-19 dictating that online celebrations must take the place of in-person graduation ceremonies across the country, the University of California San Diego will be honoring the strength and resilience of its graduating class with Virtual Commencement 2020 on June 13 at 9 a.m.

For a class that has responded with support, grace and grit to the challenges 2020 threw their way, the university has created a unique, interactive experience to celebrate this academic milestone. During UC San Diego’s virtual ceremony on June 13, a collection of talented student performers will perform a mashup of the National Anthem, student speakers will give short speeches to their peers and celebrated CBS journalist Bill Whitaker will address the class with a message of congratulations and support. In keeping with university tradition, all graduates will share in a “tassel-turning” moment after the conferral of degrees by Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and University of California President Janet Napolitano will also each share a special video message for students.

“I am always proud of our graduating class, but this year especially so,” said Chancellor Khosla. “They have proven not only that they can adapt, but also that they can thrive under extenuating circumstances. Their incredible resilience and innovative problem solving during the pandemic portend the positive changes they will make on our world in the years to come. Our virtual commencement celebration recognizes the spirit and determination of our students and celebrates their remarkable accomplishment.”

To ensure the safety of the campus community while practicing social distancing, most ceremonies for the undergraduate colleges and graduate and professional schools will be virtual. Virtual Commencement 2020 does not replace UC San Diego’s traditional in-person commencement ceremonies, which will be held at later, yet-to-be-determined dates. For the June 13 event, students who have registered to participate will have their names included in the program.

Select graduation celebrations have already occurred virtually or have been rescheduled, including the School of Medicine ceremony that took place online on May 31 and the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences ceremony that has been moved to November 14. Many of the campus community centers will also be hosting virtual celebrations or premiering commemorative videos to honor their graduating students, such as the Raza Resource Centro, LGBT Resource Center and Black Resource Center. These centers plan on inviting the Class of 2020 to join in their in-person graduation festivities in 2021.

On the commencement website, an assortment of celebratory content will be available to help the graduating class and their supporters revel in their achievements, such as themed Zoom backgrounds to show off Triton pride as well as the interactive Class of 2020 Online Yearbook. As a way to celebrate the educational milestone with a personal touch, all graduating students will be able to create a profile page on the commencement website where they can add a graduation photo and descriptions of their awards and accomplishments. Using this online yearbook feature, members of the Class of 2020 can share messages and reflect on prized memories with friends, family and fellow graduates. The website also spotlights video messages from alumni offering words of encouragement and support as the graduating class enter the next phase of their life.

Bill Whitaker

Family, friends and supporters of UC San Diego graduates can watch the virtual commencement online by visiting the commencement website, or by accessing the stream through their graduating student’s “yearbook” profile. To help celebrate this experience from home, everyone is invited to use the commencement website’s online yearbook platform to share messages of congratulations to graduates. Parents and supporters can also spread the excitement of commencement through purchasing graduation gifts—such as cap and gown teddy bears, alumni keychains and more—through the UC San Diego Bookstore.

“Our Tritons are brilliant, resilient and adaptable,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Alysson Satterlund. “Though we cannot celebrate each of our seniors’, professional students’ and graduate students’ accomplishments in-person—as is our tradition—our virtual ceremony will serve to mark their significant achievements. I hope it gives students and their loved ones a joy-filled moment to reflect on this milestone, and inspire them to continue moving forward with strength and creativity.”

UC San Diego’s Virtual Commencement 2020 will celebrate various undergraduate and graduate ceremonies simultaneously at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 13, 2020. Any individual who visits starting at 8:30 a.m. can select which of the ceremonies they would like to attend. There is no fee to participate and no pre-registration is required to view Virtual Commencement 2020.

See details below on the number of graduating students and additional information about the ceremonies. Graduating student numbers reflect data available at time of publishing. For more information on Virtual Commencement 2020, visit

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Virtual Commencement 2020 at 9 a.m.

Earl Warren College
Total number of graduates: 1,039

John Muir College
Total number of graduates: 737

Sixth College
Total number of graduates: 1,600

Thurgood Marshall College
Total number of graduates: 1,186

Eleanor Roosevelt College
Total number of graduates: 1,131

Revelle College
Speaker: Emily Paris, Class of ’20, UC San Diego Alumni Association Outstanding Senior Award for Revelle College
Total number of graduates: 773

School of Global Policy and Strategy
Speaker: Madeline “Maddie” Kasik – MIA’20
Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Master of International Affairs: 23
Master of Advanced Studies in International Affairs: 21
Master of International Affairs: 66
Master of Pacific International Affairs: 1
Master of Public Policy: 44
Master of Chinese Economic and Political Affairs: 7
Total number of graduates: 162

Graduate Division
James Antony, Dean, Graduate Division
Rachel Flanagan, Graduate Student Association President
Doctorate and Master of Fine Arts: 621
Masters: 2,040
Total number of graduates: 2,661

Rady School of Management
Speaker: Ernest Rady, Chairman of the Rady Dean’s Advisory Council, and Chairman, President, and CEO of American Assets Trust
Master of Finance: 141
M.S. in Business Analytics: 102
Master of Professional Accountancy: 33
Master of Business Administration: 63
Ph.D.: 2
Total number of graduates: 341

School of Medicine
Speaker: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha
Total number of graduates: 132

Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Speaker: B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, Dean, School of Pharmacy, UC San Francisco
Total number of graduates: 54

Total number of UC San Diego graduates: 9,816

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