University News

University of New Haven Celebrates Class of 2020 with Virtual Ceremony

During the University’s first-ever virtual Commencement, graduates were commended for the resilience and perseverance they have shown throughout the coronavirus global pandemic. The University is planning to hold an in-person ceremony in December.

August 18, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Collage of 2020 graduates
The Class of 2020.

University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., told graduates during the University’s recent virtual Commencement that they have shown “admirable and exemplary” resilience in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Charlie the Charger mascot
The University of New Haven celebrated the Class of 2020 with a virtual ceremony.

“I am confident that the valuable skills you’ve learned and the mindset you’ve developed as you navigated these unprecedented times will serve you well throughout your lives,” he said. “While the impact of global crises such as the pandemic is largely out of our control, what we can control is our response.”

Resilience was a theme of the ceremony, during which more than 800 undergraduate and 400 graduate students were presented their degrees virtually. Graduates submitted photos that were included in the ceremony video.

Each dean shared a special message with the graduates of their colleges/schools. Ronald Harichandran, Ph.D., dean of the University’s Tagliatela College of Engineering, recognized the challenges that students have faced because of the pandemic, as well as the promise of what lies ahead.

“We commend you for persevering through remote learning,” he said. “It has been our privilege to facilitate your education over the last several years, and we wish you every success as you pursue your next step. You will forever be an alum of the University of New Haven.”

‘You are going to have the ability to make a difference’

Reflection was another important theme of the ceremony. Summer McGee, Ph.D., dean of the University’s School of Health Sciences, told students that Commencement is an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a University of New Haven graduate.

“You are a group of students who have shown that you are able to persevere, to be resilient, and to accomplish amazing things, even during incredibly challenging and dynamic times,” she said. “You are entering a time in our global society where healthcare matters even more than ever, and you are going to have the ability to make a difference in whatever profession you choose to pursue.”

President Kaplan speaking at podium
President Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D., addresses graduates in the University’s virtual Commencement.

Graduates also reflected on their time as Chargers, remembering some of their favorite experiences in and out of the classroom.

“I have grown into much more of a leader than I could have ever imagined,” said Grace Hancox '20, '21 M.S., who earned a degree in forensic science and will begin her master’s degree at the University this fall. “I feel that the opportunities I’ve had have given me a glimpse into my future and, thus, have better prepared me for success.”

As part of the ceremony, Rebecca Johnson, M.A., former vice president for student affairs and dean of students who recently retired after four decades as a devoted member of the University community, received an honorary degree. Johnson touched the lives of countless students in her many roles at the University. During the virtual ceremony for the Lee College, Dr. Henry C. Lee was celebrated for his impending retirement later this month after 45 years with the University.

‘Prepared me for success’

Rohan Tucker '20, who earned a degree in business management, is looking forward to beginning his career this fall at PwC, a leading firm that serves 85 percent of global Fortune 500 companies.

Grace Hancox '20, '21 M.S.
Grace Hancox '20, '21 M.S.

"The University of New Haven prepared me for success by equipping me with the analytical, communication, and technical skills that are highly sought after in the modern workforce," he said. "Throughout my time at the University, I have learned how to look at situations holistically in order to craft tailored solutions that benefit everyone involved."

Students, faculty, and staff are also looking forward to celebrating the Class of 2020 at the University’s in-person Commencement ceremony that is scheduled for December 13 at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, Conn.

“You have worked very hard to get to this point, growing in your area of study, but just as importantly, growing as a person,” said Michael Rossi, Ph.D., interim dean of the University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “As you go forth, I anticipate you will continue to be a source of pride to the University. I hope these are lessons that extend beyond the classroom and into the rest of your life. They are qualities that will make you a truly successful individual.”