Once again, I have to tell you that I am sorry. We did not have Commencement in May, and after much careful review of the guidance available from the Center for Disease Control and the Illinois Department of Public Health, I, along with the members of my administrative team, have concluded that we cannot and should not hold Commencement ceremonies in August either. Instead, we plan to hold multiple Commencement ceremonies in May 2021.
I promise you that we want to celebrate your accomplishments. I thought about trying to ease the pain by explaining why we’ve made this decision: we’re not sure we can do so legally; we’re not sure we can do so safely; we’re not sure if we can do it both legally and safely we can do it well. Then, dejected, I realized that you’ve already heard this over and over again. Let’s face it: you’re the COVID-19 class; what’s the point in trying to explain once again what you don’t get to do?
Then I realized something else. I’ve been proud of each class that has graduated during my eight years here, but as I sat down to disappoint you…again…I realized that I am proud of you in a way I haven’t been of any other graduating class. In the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic, you have had important life moments taken from you; goodbyes to friends; interrupted relationships or jobs that might have gone who knows where; and photos of you in your cap and gown with your friends, your professors and, your grandma – all without masks or social distancing. Thus far, 2020 hasn’t brought out the best in many of us, but I think it has in you. In spite of the anger, entitlement, division, and fear that our culture has seen in response to COVID-19, you have sacrificed graciously, and been patient and kind with those of us who have sacrificed your interests for others. I love you for that, and I want to celebrate it along with your academic accomplishments, because the rest of us have much yet to learn from you.
God willing, that is exactly what we will do in May.
Silas L. McCormick