Skip to main content

Northwestern's 162nd Commencement Will Be Virtual

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

In just under 60 days, we are scheduled to hold Northwestern University’s 162nd annual commencement ceremonies and a variety of graduation-related events. Many of us have held out hope that the current global health emergency might subside in time for us to gather, to honor our Class of 2020, and to celebrate together their achievements.

Due to ongoing guidance from public officials and public health authorities, however, it is clear for the greater good of our community that we must conduct commencement and confer degrees in a virtual format—with the expectation of holding a campus event to salute our graduates in the future.

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. But our Northwestern community is committed to honoring them with all its heart. 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.

Our June 19 commencement ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m., as scheduled, online. I’m thrilled to let you know that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has confirmed that she will be our commencement speaker that morning. As the mayor of one of the world’s great cities, she has committed Chicago to being a model for solutions to urban challenges around the globe. With her “Stay Home, Save Lives” campaign, she has emerged as a national leader, hailed for wise and decisive action—and a warm and reassuring sense of humor—to protect her city and its citizens. And as someone who has broken barriers and expanded our sense of possibility, she is the ideal commencement speaker for us as we conclude our historic commemoration of 150 Years of Women at Northwestern.

In the coming weeks, we will share more information about the virtual ceremonies and events. Our schools also will announce alternatives to their own previously scheduled convocations. Please regularly check our commencement website for updates and details.   

Finally, I would like to speak personally to our graduates: This will not be the moment that you expected, but it will still fully be your moment. We are committed to bringing you a thoughtful experience that can make memories for a lifetime. Accordingly, I would like to ask you to offer your own brilliance and creativity by using this link to share your virtual event ideas. 

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

And when it is safe, we will see you again in person. 



Morton Schapiro
President and Professor