The University of Maryland today announced a three-part plan to celebrate 2020 spring graduates amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Revealed to the campus community in a letter from UMD President Wallace D. Loh, the special arrangements include a virtual commencement celebration on May 22 to recognize graduates through an engaging, multiplatform program; complimentary tickets to a Maryland football game on Sept. 12 and the opportunity to participate in the university’s winter commencement ceremony on Dec. 20.

Presided over by Loh, the virtual campus-wide commencement ceremony will be streamed live across multiple platforms on May 22 at 1 p.m. and include remarks from Citrupa “Kat” Gopal ’20, a biology major, and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer ’63. The university will also confer honorary doctorates to Hiram Whittle, the first African American male undergraduate admitted to UMD in 1951, and Elaine Johnson Coates ’59, the first African American female student admitted in 1955. Individual colleges and schools will also host their own virtual commencement ceremonies on May 22, featuring remarks from deans and displaying the names of every graduate.

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer ’63“While this semester has not turned out how any of us expected, we are still making plans to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates of the spring class of 2020,” said Loh, who will retire from UMD in June. “We all look forward to commemorating this upcoming graduating class. And I look forward to standing with them, another proud ‘graduate’ of the spring Class of 2020 of the University of Maryland.”

The university is collaborating with student groups and leaders across campus on plans for commencement. “As a graduating senior, I am heartbroken that commencement will not occur the way I’ve envisioned it for the past four years,” said Student Government Association President Ireland Lesley ’20. “I know that many of my fellow graduating seniors feel the same way. However, I am grateful that we will get the chance to celebrate our experience and achievements at UMD together. During such an uncertain time, I appreciate the administration taking time to collect and listen to student feedback before making this decision.”

“During these challenging and uncertain times, it is a great honor to address the Spring 2020 graduates of the University of Maryland, College Park,” said Hoyer. “I know this year’s celebrations will look a bit different, but I look forward to joining together with the UMD family to recognize the achievements of our graduates and wish them well as they enter the next phase of their lives.”

As U.S. House majority leader, Hoyer is the second-ranking member of the House Democratic leadership and plays a key role in shaping House Democrats’ priorities and bringing legislation to the floor. It was at UMD that he began a journey that would lead to him becoming the first Marylander in history to serve in this role. Hoyer continuously works to bring federal resources home to Maryland’s Fifth District, which includes College Park. He is a strong advocate for the university’s expansion of research and teaching and an avid supporter of Maryland Athletics.

Maryland Athletics will provide complimentary tickets to graduates and guests to the home football game on Sept. 12. In addition, spring graduates are invited to attend and participate in the winter commencement ceremony, which will take place on Dec. 20. The university will continue to closely monitor guidance from state and local leaders, the USM chancellor, and public health officials and will announce additional details when they are available, keeping the health and safety of the university community as the top priority.

Throughout the remainder of the semester, the university will be calling on graduates to share photos, videos and messages of memories, experiences and hope with fellow Terps using the hashtag #UMDgrad for the opportunity to be included in the virtual commencement ceremony. Students will also be encouraged to engage live on social media during the virtual ceremony on May 22.

Additional information about commencement will be shared with graduates and added to as it becomes available.