May. 17, 2020

Commencement in a time of COVID-19

Dear Connecticut College Alumnae and Alumni,

Commencement in a time of COVID-19 requires extraordinary measures. At Connecticut College, we were ready, tapping into the talent and creativity that our College is known for to create a virtual graduation unlike any other.

Our graduation event was broadcast live this afternoon. It represented a wonderful collaboration among our seniors and our entire campus community, including remarks from renowned entrepreneur and president of Ashesi University Patrick Awuah, along with videos submitted by students, faculty and staff. A highlight of our ceremony this year was a special R & B version of our 100-year-old alma mater, which I wrote and performed remotely with Butch and a wonderful group of students, along with one of our talented staff members, and put together as a special video presentation. As a musician and music historian, it is clear to me that music has a unique and powerful role to play during a pandemic—as a force that connects people across time and space. We hope this musical tribute to the Class of 2020, which brings our College song to life for a new generation, will help everyone feel that connection.

Incidentally, in 2014, during my first year as president of Connecticut College, NPR created a list of 300 of history’s greatest commencement addresses. I was proud that 19 of the speeches they chose had been delivered at Connecticut College—more than any other institution on the list! During this pandemic, when campus ceremonies have been canceled or postponed across the country, we think NPR should consider producing a list of the greatest virtual commencements. If they did, I am sure Connecticut College would be at the top of that list.

I invite you to reconnect with your alma mater by watching this one-of-a-kind ceremony. I suspect you will be as moved by it as we all were in creating it.


Katherine Bergeron