A Virtual ‘Walk’ to Remember

Thursday, May 28, 2020
Image shows Erik Hayes in center of screen in his graduation regalia. On either side are video chat screens showing about 20 faculty and staff members applauding the graduates.

This year’s virtual Commencement will include the traditional final “walk” through campus, the reading of all graduates’ names by their department head and an opportunity to interact live with campus community members.

Rose-Hulman’s 2020 graduation will be unlike any other in its 142-year history—still steeped in tradition, pomp and circumstance, and the reading of every graduates’ name—through a special virtual ceremony on Saturday, May 30.

Even its 8:30 p.m. EDT starting time has been planned to allow the livestream, www.rose-hulman.edu/ceremony, to be watched by graduates, parents, and others throughout the world.

Special efforts by administrators, faculty, and staff have made this year’s ceremony personalized, memorable, and something that marks the incredible accomplishment of each graduate. There will be the traditional final “walk” through campus and each student will “receive” their diploma from their respective academic department head.

“The ceremony will celebrate the connections between our students, faculty, and staff,” says Rick Stamper, provost, vice president of academic affairs and 1985 alumnus. “It also will provide an opportunity for students to virtually experience campus one last time, which will be important since many of our students left campus not realizing it would be their last time on campus as a student.”

Faculty and staff have created special videos and individualized hand-written notes to congratulate the students on their achievement.

“Our ceremony will be special because it reinforces the individual attention and support that’s part of our mission,” states Commencement Grand Marshal Erik Hayes, vice president for student affairs, dean of students, and a 1997 alumnus. “Our graduates have been waiting for this and they have worked very hard for it. Every single graduate will have their name read by their department head, just as if they were here in person. If we weren’t willing to read every name, then I don’t think we would be true to our mission.”

Stamper adds, “It was important to let the graduates know that we value them and that we believe in them. Several members of the Rose-Hulman community went to extraordinary efforts to produce the virtual graduation ceremony, but it was a labor of love and reciprocates the extraordinary effort that the students put into being successful at Rose-Hulman.”

Special guest Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb will briefly address the Class of 2020, while also receiving an honorary doctor of humane letters from the institute.

President Robert Coons will provide inspiring remarks to the graduates and their parents, while members of the senior class will present short addresses to their classmates.

The event will feature the presentation of the following student honors:

• John T. Royse Award: Recognizing the most outstanding graduate, in the opinion of faculty and staff, based upon academic achievement, student leadership, participation in co-curricular activities, and general campus citizenship.
• Herman A. Moench Distinguished Senior Commendation: Highlighting the graduating student who best exemplifies the characteristics of honesty, self-discipline, compassion, and moral conviction, while also being distinguishable for having had a commendable influence upon fellow students.
• Heminway Gold Medal: Recognizing members of the graduating class having the highest overall grade point average.

Meanwhile, faculty and staff will be recognized with the following awards:

• Dean’s Outstanding Teacher Award: Featuring a professor for outstanding ability as a teacher and attention and dedication to students, in and out of the classroom.
• Board of Trustees Outstanding Scholar: Honoring one faculty member for representing the highest standards of scholarship and serving the community as a role model for professional development.
• President’s Outstanding Service Award: Recognizing a staff member for exemplifying the dedication, hard work, and commitment to the institute and its students that makes Rose-Hulman a special place.