SFU holds virtual convocation ceremony for Spring 2020 graduates

Through an online video stream, SFU celebrated graduating students and honorary degree recipients

Courtesy of Simon Fraser University

Written by: Paige Riding, News Writer

On the evening of Thursday June 11, SFU hosted a half-hour virtual convocation ceremony to celebrate over 4,500 SFU graduates. 

This event was supplemented by specific faculty celebrations on SFU’s website. These celebrations included brief messages from the Dean of each faculty and separate undergraduate and graduate videos highlighting each graduate.

Director of Ceremonies and Events Gloria Chu spoke with The Peak over email about convocation.

“A lot of work from many teams across the university came together to reimagine a virtual convocation that would be meaningful, celebratory, and grad focused. In a very short time, we consulted widely, with grads, faculties, and departments at SFU; and we researched and consulted with our many external contacts as well,” Chu wrote. 

The main convocation began after a montage of SFU’s scientific advances, research efforts, engagement with Indigenous peoples, some SFU pipe band tunes, and student speakers encouraging the use of the hashtag #MySFUGrad2020 on social media.

Chancellor Anne Giardini and President Andrew Petter presented an opening speech, followed by a traditional welcome from Elder Margaret George, a member of the Indigenous Student Centre’s Elders Program. Elder Margaret provided a brief prayer and thanked the families of graduates for attending and celebrating with the Spring graduates.

Minister of Advanced Education, Skills & Training Hon. Melanie Mark also provided encouraging words, followed by further remarks from the Chancellor and President Petter acknowledging the atypical situation for 2020 graduates. 

Eight honorary degree recipients were acknowledged for their “scholarly, scientific, or artistic achievement, or in recognition of their exceptional contribution to the public good.” This is the highest honour provided from SFU. The recipients provided brief addresses to the graduates, congratulating them and wishing them luck in the future.

“You’re graduating in 2020, a year that will go down, hopefully, in the history books as the year of the great realization. COVID-19 has woken us up to the power of our welfare states and social services. Services that have been underfinanced and undervalued [ . . . ] All of this means that we must change the way we produce, the way we design, the way we consume, the way we build communities and safety nets, and especially the way we bring new voices to the table to discuss all this,” said Dr. Mariana Mazzucato, one of the eight recipients.

After the honorary degree recipients, student speakers from the class of Spring 2020 gave short speeches.

The event ended with the official graduation announcement and congratulations from the Chancellor and President. Within two minutes, thousands of students were mass convocated. Graduating student’s names and degrees are listed under each of the faculty celebrations websites.

Chu spoke on the efforts of those working in unusual circumstances to make this celebration happen.

“All who have been working on these virtual convocation celebrations have taken these new challenges with a complete ‘we are here to do whatever it takes’ attitude. Because they all understand that these are challenging times for all and especially the Class of 2020,” Chu said.

“We are so very proud of your accomplishments! And, we recognize that the virtual convocation was not what you were expecting after all your hard work. But, we hope that you know how much we appreciate all of you. We are looking forward to celebrating with you at an in-person convocation soon when it is safe.”