Co-authors Scott Pitoniak and Rick Burton discuss the creation of Forever Orange, The Story of Syracuse University.
Syracuse University Class of 2020 Celebrated through Conferral of Degrees
Today is a day to celebrate! The Orange family has come together virtually—across the country and around the globe—to honor the Class of 2020.
In a special virtual video event, Chancellor Kent Syverud addressed the Syracuse University Class of 2020, conferring more than 3,800 undergraduate and 2,800 graduate and professional degrees. This year’s class of Syracuse graduates hails from across the United States, 50 countries and many indigenous nations.
Although Commencement 2020 could not occur on this day as originally planned, graduates, along with their families, friends and supporters—and all members of the Orange family—were invited to share in today’s virtual event and celebrate the success and accomplishments of this year’s graduating class through a video message.
The University’s full, traditional Commencement ceremony will be held this fall at a time and date to be announced.
Today’s message also included—in separate locations—remarks from Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu, Chair of the Board of Trustees Kathy Walters ’73 and Student Association President Mackenzie Mertikas ’20; a blessing from the Rev. Rhonda Chester, of the United Methodist Ecumenical Campus Ministry at Hendricks Chapel; comments from special guests Mike Tirico ’88, sportscaster with NBC Sports and Syracuse University trustee, and Weijia Jiang G’06, White House correspondent with CBS News; and a performance of the alma mater by the University Singers (recorded in 2019).
In the video message, Chancellor Syverud spoke to the Class of 2020 from the Shaw Quadrangle.
“Today, we honor your years of hard work and sacrifice and joy and accomplishment at Syracuse,” Chancellor Syverud said. “We also thank those who have supported you: faculty, staff, parents, siblings, family and friends—all who have supported you during your academic career here at Syracuse.”
Syverud noted that, over the last few months, the Class of 2020 has shown what being Orange truly means. “No one could have been fully prepared for the adversity you have all faced, but you have responded with resilience and with grace,” he said. “Your creativity, your wisdom, your innovative spirit has defined the Class of 2020 at its best.”
Addressing the graduating students, Chancellor Syverud said this class has been achieving great things since they arrived on campus. “Indeed, for the last 150 years, Syracuse University has been blessed by wonderful graduates. You all continue that tradition,” he said. “We are all proud of what you have achieved thus far, and we look forward to seeing all of the extraordinary things you will do in the future.”
In her blessing to the Class of 2020, Rev. Chester said the community comes together with thanksgiving. “As the Orange family, we celebrate who this class has become throughout their academic journey—and who they will be as they continue on life’s journey,” Chester said.
Congratulating her classmates, Mertikas shared her thoughts of what it means to be Orange. “In 150 years of Syracuse University, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a year quite like this one—not only here on campus but around the world,” Mertikas says. “Despite the rapid transitions and unexpected changes, I am confident that there will always be at least one constant in our lives: our Orange family.”
Mertikas reflected on the meaning of both orange—joy, warmth, heat and sunshine, along with creativity, success, determination and passion—and family: a group of people united by certain conviction or a common affiliation.
“When you put those two words together, you get the core of Syracuse University: the Orange family,” Mertikas said.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Walters said, “It is my honor, and it is my joy, to congratulate the Syracuse University Class of 2020. We welcome you to our alumni family.”
Syracuse University alumni share in the Orange spirit and passion to make a difference. “Today, you join a powerful network of Orange alumni who love this university and recognize the value of your Syracuse degree,” Walters said. “Wherever you go and whatever you choose to do next, your alumni family is with you.”
A fellow Board of Trustees member, Tirico also congratulated the Class of 2020. “You’ve been part of the Orange family for the last few years, now you are in it for life,” Tirico said.
Even though the Class of 2020 has had a difficult time these past few months, Tirico said, “I know that you all are very well prepared to take on this new world with new challenges, not only to make the country better but our Syracuse family as well. Stronger than ever.”
Another fellow alumnus, Jiang told graduates what they have achieved was not easy. “I know this is a weird time to start a fresh chapter, but your story was always going to have twists and turns because clean-cut lines are boring,” she said. “Plus, our current situation doesn’t change everything you have just learned and how you have grown in the past four years. Now you have to take all of it and carve out a new path.”
Provost Liu addressed graduates and their families and loved ones on this special occasion. “Graduation is always special. It is beyond the diploma you are to receive. It is beyond the work you have worked so hard for years. It is beyond all the stories you can tell in the years to come, and it is beyond a moment when you are commencing a career,” Liu said. “We are so proud of your accomplishments and confident you are prepared to succeed as you pursue your own unique pathway that lies ahead of you.”