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Tuskegee marks Class of 2020 milestone with virtual graduation observance

May 16, 2020

Contact: Brittney Dabney, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Tuskegee University gathered virtually on Sunday, May 10, to celebrate and honor its 500-plus graduates comprising the Class of 2020. The virtual graduation observance was a first for the university, necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic; however, traditional graduation elements were included throughout the broadcast.

The nearly two-hour, video-based ceremony included a welcome from President Lily D. McNair, who acknowledged the accomplishments students have made during this challenging time.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has led to you having to move to online classes, moving away from campus and missing out on the everyday social interactions that are the hallmark of the Tuskegee experience,” said McNair.

Graduates also received a special message from the university’s Board of Trustees chairwoman, Norma B. Clayton, who said, “I offer you words of encouragement and the promise of hope for a better future. We live in the present with all of its ugliness and the future is yet to come – that is where your focus needs to be, because that is what you can impact.”

The recorded video ceremony included all college and school deans, who presented their respective graduates to the president for the conferral of their degrees. As each graduate’s name was announced, a slide that included his or her name, degree and photograph appeared on screen to simulate their walk across the stage.

The ceremony also included the commissioning of 15 ROTC cadets as second lieutenants and ensigns in their respective military branches, and the administration of the “Alumni Oath” given by Tuskegee National Alumni Association president, Burt Rowe.

This spring’s graduating class included 401 students receiving bachelor degrees, 70 receiving master’s degrees, and 10 receiving doctoral degrees — 46 of those being international students. The spring ceremony included 203 students who graduated with honors, and 11 students who graduated with dual-degrees.

This year’s graduation included a couple of firsts for Tuskegee. Torius Moore, an aerospace science engineering, physics and mathematics triple-major, was the university’s first to graduate with a 4.0 GPA. In conjunction with the ceremony, Moore was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.

In addition, Sierra Elizabeth Siler was the university’s first visual arts graduate in history. The visual arts degree program was established under the tenure of the university’s previous president, Dr. Brian Johnson, who’s vision included music and visual arts under “STEAM” programs.

A complete program for the virtual graduation observance is available for download.

In a separate virtual ceremony on Friday, May 1, the College of Veterinary Medicine awarded Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees to 56 graduates.

The university plans an official, in-person ceremony for its spring 2020 graduates in December; however a date has not been determined. Graduates will be notified as those plans are announced.

© 2020, Tuskegee University