Office of the President

April 8, 2020

Updates on commencement and summer quarter as we weather the pandemic

Ana Mari Cauce

These recent weeks have shown what our Husky family is made of. Your resilience, ingenuity and generosity are powerful reminders that the University of Washington is not defined by where we are, but who we are. As our state continues social distancing and other practices that show signs of effectiveness, our University continues to plan for the future to ensure we serve our students and community well, both in this quarter and throughout the upcoming recovery and rebuilding.

Commencement

Commencement is one of the most joyous occasions in the life of our University, especially for students and their families. We all look forward each year to celebrating our graduates’ achievements and the great promise they bring to the world. Despite all our hopes to the contrary, it is now clear that in-person campus ceremonies in June won’t be possible. I am, however, looking forward to honoring all of our graduating seniors, graduate and professional students in two ways: First, with a one-of-a-kind, live, worldwide and interactive webcast on June 13, 2020. This dynamic and personalized experience will be the first time that graduates of all three of our campuses will have the opportunity to celebrate commencement together. Second, knowing the significance that a physical ceremony holds for many students, this year’s graduates are also invited to take part in and receive special recognition at the 2021 commencement exercises for all three campuses. Please visit the Bothell, Seattle or Tacoma commencement sites for information specific to your campus.

To be clear, the invitation to participate in commencement in 2021 is no afterthought. It is intended to offer graduates the opportunity to walk across the stage with their classmates in front of their loved ones, which they have earned. This could be included as part of the Class of 2021’s commencement ceremony, or it could grow into its own separate ceremony if many 2020 graduates decide to return for the event – and we hope many will. The postponement to June 2021 gives us ample time to work with our graduates and hear from them about how they would like this event to take shape. We look forward to working with them.

To the members of the Class of 2020, the persistence and grace you have demonstrated through these historic circumstances is extraordinary. Your achievements are even more impressive and inspiring in light of the hurdles that the pandemic has put in your way. It will be our great privilege to celebrate your launch into a global society that has never been in greater need of your talent and dedication. We will do everything in our power to ensure your virtual and in-person commencement exercises are meaningful, joyful experiences, made all the more memorable for you and your friends and family given the historic time your class finds itself in. Please consider participating in both!

Summer quarter

In order to put safety and health first, not only for our community, but for the public we serve, the full and A terms of summer quarter will be offered remotely. No decision has been made about B term, which begins on July 23, 2020. As we plan for B term and the start of fall quarter in September, we are adjusting course offerings to backfill courses with clinical, lab, studio and practicum requirements that cannot be fulfilled remotely. Summer registration begins April 13.

Your University’s vital role in the fight against COVID-19

As we all continue the challenging work of adapting to circumstances, I’m deeply grateful for and proud of the extraordinary work happening across the community. Our heroic frontline health care workers are saving lives. Just yesterday, we announced that more than $20 million has been contributed by our community to the UW Medicine Emergency Response Fund and UW volunteers have collected more than 600,000 units of donated personal protective equipment for healthcare providers. Today, we are starting a campaign for the Student Emergency Fund to provide much-needed emergency support for our students, many of whom are continuing their education in extremely challenging circumstances as they feel the effects of this crisis.

The pandemic has also brought into sharp relief how profoundly important our research and data science expertise are for grasping the scale of the outbreak and understanding what it will take to end it. Outstanding work is happening across our university to attack the problem from every angle. UW Virology has led the way in developing and ramping up testing capacity, as has the Center for an Informed Public in combating misinformation and pointing to its serious consequences. In the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, a team is developing an app to allow health organizations to monitor coughs from COVID-19 patients self-quarantined at home. A UW geographer has created an interactive map to monitor the global spread of the novel coronavirus. Our School of Public Health is analyzing the economic impact of the crisis to predict who will be most affected, and the UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is at the forefront of the national fight to flatten the curve through its data modeling and expert guidance to public health officials.

When I launched the Population Health Initiative nearly four years ago, it was necessary to explain to people why it was important to look at health through more than an individual lens. We had to detail how the factors that most affect our well-being are ones shared by all of humanity, that health knows no geographic barriers and that our well-being is intertwined with that of everyone on our planet. Today, we are living that reality.

This crisis has brought grief, anxiety and loss. It has taken members of our UW community and deeply affected many more. But it has also revealed the enormous strength at the core of our Husky family. As we navigate the challenges that lie ahead, we will continue to keep each other safe and advance the work and learning that we are passionate about. And we will emerge from this ordeal with our hope intact, rededicated to the mission that unites us.

This post was updated on April 11 with additional details about commencement ceremonies in 2021.