Michigan State held its spring commencement ceremony online this year due to the ongoing stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual commencement ceremony was broadcasted over Facebook and at msu.edu Saturday morning.
The event kicked off with students from the College of Music performing “Victory for MSU," followed by some notes of encouragement from faculty and alumni including coach Tom Izzo, ABC7 NY’s lead sports anchor Ryan Field, Disney CEO Bob Iger and artist Quinn XCII.
“Commencement is the highlight of the year for every president, especially one new to the university,” MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said during the broadcast. “And I'm happy to share this one with you and look forward to a day where we can be together to commemorate your triumph and transition.”
Stanley promised spring 2020 graduates they'll have the opportunity to return to campus eventually for an in-person commencement ceremony. He said faculty and staff are finding ways to donate, decontaminate and even manufacture personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders.
Following Stanley’s keynotes, deans of MSU colleges commended graduates and expressed their best wishes.
Dean of the College of Arts and Letters Christopher P. Long congratulated the class of 2020.
"It's clear there's nothing the world can throw at you that you can't handle," he said. "Your resilience will transform the world. Now go forth and go green."
Dean of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Stephen L. Esquith said spring 2020 graduates have done an "incredible job under unprecedented circumstances."
"It's been a pleasure working with you, a pleasure seeing the accomplishments that you've been able to achieve and the relationships that you've built as we move forward in uncharted waters," he said. "I know we'll be able to sustain those relationships, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future."
Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine Birgit Puschner and Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Ronald L. Hendrick also offered words of encouragement.
"This is your time, and it probably doesn't feel normal to you. But really, there is no normal," Puschner said. "There's only change and then there's more change."
She said the class of 2020 should "use these moments to innovate."
“You did it. Your accomplishments are to be celebrated. This is your moment," Hendrick said. "It's everything you've worked for. All those deadlines, papers, presentations, all the late nights and the early mornings. You have earned the designation of Spartan that you will carry that Spartan moniker with you wherever you go. It’s part of who you are now; you're a Spartan."
Interim Provost Teresa Sullivan reflected back on the memories of her commencement when she graduated from MSU and said she was honored to have served as interim provost for the past seven months.
“While here, I've been impressed by the hard work, tenacity and goodwill of my fellow Spartans,” Sullivan said. “Even during the times of unprecedented adversity, you have shown great resilience and resolve to continue forward in your studies, with your research and in your outreach ventures to advance the greater good.”
Stanley then conferred degrees, and a short video salute was presented by the MSU Athletic Department afterwards. The broadcast ended with graduates from the College of Music singing “MSU Shadows."