Northwestern Now

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Saturday, June 20

Today’s tip: We’re celebrating the Northwestern Class of 2020 in words, video and photos. This has been, as President Morton Schapiro said, “A Commencement unlike the 161 that came before it.”


A day for grads

Held virtually this year, Northwestern’s Commencement brought together the graduating class of 2020 — from all corners of the world — in an online celebration of tremendous achievement, albeit amid the most difficult of circumstances, including a global pandemic and an equally global push for racial justice.

Watch the entire ceremony, which honored 6,294 students who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees this year.

And don't miss the Alma Mater, presented in a moving performance by the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble.

Morton Schapiro

‘The world needs your leadership’

In a poignant speech, President Morton Schapiro acknowledged that the final weeks of the graduates’ time at Northwestern were not a time of celebration, but rather a time of crisis. “The world needs your leadership more than ever, and I have confidence that you will rise to the occasion,” he said. “Congratulations to all of you. I salute you and am proud to help recognize your extraordinary achievements.”

Lori Lightfoot

‘Be at the table’

In her keynote address, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke of both the staggering impact of the forces shaping the world and the opportunities they present, urging graduates to seize the moment by heeding the call to serve. She told them that now, more than ever, it is important to “be at the table.”


‘Hold firm’

In her invocation, Associate Chaplain Tahera Ahmad said, “May you always know how to hold firm between prayer and protest, between peace and justice, between radical love and righteous anger, between an empathetic heart and a strategic mind, between giving back to the streets and learning in ivory towers, between resilient listening and breaking the silence, between speaking the inconvenient truth and preaching to the choir, between taking on the weight of the entire world and taking care of your own very precious soul.”

Student Speaker

‘We are important’

Speaking on behalf of the Class of 2020, graduating senior Trisha Kaundinya asked classmates to think of the concept of “place” in their lives. “Our memories of who we have become at Northwestern, our concepts of place, are important because we are important.”

Alumni messages

Congratulations, and Go ’Cats!

Alumni from all walks of life showed their Purple Pride and offered well wishes to the Class of 2020.

Other News

At the Baccalaureate service, an annual celebration of diversity, came an interfaith call to repair the world.

Norman Lear, Lori Lightfoot, JoAnne Stubbe and George M. Whitesides received honorary degrees for their contributions to the arts, sciences and leadership.

Through the Distinguished Secondary School Teacher Awards, graduates paid tribute to the extraordinary educators who continue to inspire.

we watched
Grad and family

Wildcats around the world and on campus — like Noah Kudman and his parents — watched this year’s virtual ceremony on their screens.

Open the floodgates, overwhelm us, run us out of town.”

- Alumnus Cody Keenan, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, delivered advice and guidance via the Last Lecture.

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