Thursday, July 2, 2020
Memorandum from President Botstein Regarding Commencement 2020
To: The Bard College Class of 2020, their families, friends and the entire Bard Community
From: President Leon Botstein
I am writing to you, as promised, about Bard College’s plans regarding the 2020 Commencement. On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the College, I am pleased to announce that commencement will take place on the weekend of August 21, 22, and 23, 2020.
Owing to the severity and longevity of the destruction and danger created by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the United States but also around the world, the College has decided on a modified commencement plan. The events and ceremonies will be held in real time, but access to them will be limited. Therefore, for most of you, participation in the events will have to be virtual. Everything will be done and streamed in real time. Most of the content of the events will be live and the entire weekend will be recorded and available for viewing after the fact.
The traditional commencement tent will be erected on the Seth Goldfine Memorial Field, next to Kline Commons. Since that tent is designed to shield events from inclement weather, it is likely that all the events scheduled will take place there. It is prudent to point out that things can change as a consequence of public health policies and regulations. To the best of our ability, however, we are outlining what we believe will actually happen.
Friday, August 21:
Senior Class Awards Ceremony
The Senior Class Awards Ceremony, to be hosted by the president and the deans, will be held at 10 a.m. EDT on Friday, the 21st of August. Representatives of the senior class, a faculty speaker, and a speaker representing the administrative staff of the College will all participate. Every senior receiving an award will be announced and the award described. I encourage all seniors and their families and members of the faculty to join us in this ceremony in which the achievements of the senior class will be recognized. The awards given at the ceremony are printed in the traditional commencement program, which is being prepared and will be distributed to every member of the senior class and all graduate degree candidates who were scheduled to receive their degrees at the conclusion of the 2020 spring semester.
The Baccalaureate, hosted by the chaplaincy, will take place at 2 p.m. EDT. This will be an adaptation of the traditional Baccalaureate and will include a student speaker, alumni/ae speaker, faculty speaker, and a program developed with student participation by members of the chaplaincy.
The Commencement Concert will take place at 5 p.m. EDT. The tradition of featuring student performers from the graduating class, majors and non-majors alike, will be continued with The Orchestra Now (TŌN). TŌN will provide the orchestral backup in a socially distant configuration under the commencement tent. This concert has usually taken place late on Friday evening. It will be approximately one hour long.
Saturday, August 22:
The Bard College Awards Ceremony
The Bard College Awards ceremony, which traditionally is the Friday evening prelude to commencement, will take place at 11 a.m. EDT. The president of the college, trustees, and the president of the Bard College Alumni/ae Association, with the assistance of members of the faculty, will confer six awards and recognize the retirements of five retired members of the faculty and staff. This will occur in real time on the commencement stage under the commencement tent. We anticipate all awardees to be present, and each will deliver remarks. The 2020 Award recipients are Barbara S. Grossman ’73, Juliet Morrison ’03, Xaviera Simmons ’05, Nicholas Ascienzo, Matt Taibbi ’92, and Carolyn Forché. Bardian Awards, honoring the retirement of long-time members of the Bard community, will be presented to Peggy Ahwesh, Matthew Deady, Bonnie Marcus ’71, and Richard Teitelbaum (posthumously).
Commencement will begin at 2:30 p.m. There will be an academic procession, with members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, and the administration, who will assemble under the commencement tent. Also present will be the commencement speaker, David Byrne, as well as honorary degree recipients Laurie Anderson, Steven Chu, Gao Xiaosong, Thelma Golden, Linda E. Johnson, Ellen Condliffe Lagemann, and George D. Rose ’63. The chair of the Board of Trustees, James C. Chambers ’81, will preside. After the invocation, he will greet the Class of 2020 and the community. His greeting will be followed by the commencement address by David Byrne and the awarding of honorary degrees. Owing to the special circumstances, we have asked each of the honorary degree recipients to say a few words to the 2020 graduates and their guests. After the formal charge by the president of the college, the degrees will be awarded. Every name will be read aloud, and a slide will show the graduate’s name, the title of the Senior Project or thesis, adviser, and the graduate’s home town, and for graduate degrees, the undergraduate college. Those of you who wish to have your picture included as your name is called and shown on screen will be invited to submit a photograph. This form of presentation, in alphabetical order, will permit us to acknowledge in real time the achievement of every person receiving a degree. After the awarding of degrees, the ceremony will conclude with the traditional benediction.
Please remember that these plans are subject to change even though we are relatively certain that they can be realized in a manner consistent with the protocols governing outdoor events.
Every 2020 degree candidate will have the opportunity to walk and receive a degree at any of the three subsequent commencement ceremonies that the College will hold in 2021, 2022, and 2023. If an individual wishes to march and cross the commencement platform to receive their degree in the presence of the family and friends, we will accommodate their request over the next three commencements.
After commencement, we will send every recipient the degree that has been earned and granted. If the decision to march at a future commencement is taken by an individual, a second copy of the degree that was granted will be handed to the degree holder at that future ceremony.
Sunday, August 23
Alumni/ae Memorial Service
The traditional Alumni/ae Memorial Service will be held at 12 o’clock noon on Sunday. This is an Anglican service, hosted by our Anglican Chaplain, Mary Grace Williams. The president of the college will read the names, in real time, of all those alumni/ae, friends, and colleagues who have died since the Bard commencement in May 2019.
We apologize for our inability to hold a full-scale commencement in calendar year 2020. The reasons are all too clear. However, we believe the events scheduled for the weekend of August 21, 22, and 23 will be dignified, joyful, and properly celebratory.
Additional information will be provided at a later date. In the meantime, should you have any questions, you may contact Bard’s Special Events Office email@example.com, Registrar firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dean of Student Affairs email@example.com.
I want to thank everyone involved in these events, including our guests, for their cooperation and patience.
For more information, call 845-758-6822.