The logistics will be different, but the well wishes, joy and pride will be just as heartfelt at Friday’s Spring 2020 Commencement, which will celebrate graduation for the first time with an online program, rather than the traditional in-person one, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The more than 8,500 University of Maryland students receiving bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees will be honored with a livestreamed university-wide ceremony. Individual colleges and schools are each developing their own videos, available here on Saturday, with remarks from deans and each graduate’s name displayed.

“Commencement is an important rite of passage. It marks the end of an academic journey and the start of a new chapter in one's life journey,” said President Wallace D. Loh, who is marking his final commencement ceremony before retiring at the end of June. “For me, it marks my ‘graduation’ as well, though it has taken me 10 years to reach this moment. I, too, share the sense of accomplishment and sadness that accompanies the closing of a chapter. This is what makes the Spring 2020 Commencement all the more meaningful to me.”

Along with a few surprises and special guests, the main commencement address will be delivered by U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer ’63, majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives and congressman for Maryland’s 5th District. The student speaker is Citrupa Gopal ’20, a biological sciences major from India who came to UMD for its strong undergraduate research opportunities.

As part of the shift to a virtual ceremony, all graduating students were sent a care package, including a turtle pin, posters, commencement program and, for undergraduates, a cap and tassel. Graduates were encouraged to share their UMD memories on social media using #UMDgrad for the opportunity to be included in the virtual ceremony.

“We know this is an unusual way to celebrate graduation, but students have been very accepting and understanding. Everyone knows that health and safety are our first priority,” said Brooke Supple, assistant vice president and chief of staff for Student Affairs. “We appreciate the input, understanding and support of the Class of 2020 to make this an exciting and memorable occasion.”

In addition to this week’s events, graduates will receive complimentary tickets to the Sept. 12 home football game, at which they’ll be recognized; they’re also invited to participate in the Winter Commencement ceremony, which will be held on Sunday, Dec. 20 to make it possible for more Spring graduates and families to attend.