15:44 PM

Interim President's Message: Virtual Commencement on Dec. 19

Greetings Gators,

I trust that you and your loved ones are safe and in good health. UHD, like the rest of the community, continues to navigate the many challenges associated with COVID-19. Classes, student services and many University traditions have continued virtually and in different modalities.

Another University tradition that will continue, albeit in a virtual format, is commencement. UHD’s 2020 Commencement ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 19. Students who graduated in Spring, Summer or Fall of this year are eligible to participate.

Earlier this month, Provost Link shared my decision that Fall Commencement will be conducted online.

While Minute Maid Park had originally been reserved for this important ceremony, we have made the cautious decision to conduct our formal graduation ceremony online based on the state of public health in the Greater Houston region.

Please understand that the safety and success of our community is critical when planning an event of this magnitude. With rising COVID-19 cases in the Houston region and across the state, a large gathering such as commencement would pose a risk to our nearly 3,000 graduates and their friends and family members. I, along with others at the University, consider this risk not worth jeopardizing the health and safety of all who would be involved in an in-person commencement exercise given current COVID levels in our city and the prediction of the challenges ahead.

Although our event will be conducted virtually, it will be a FORMAL graduation. The virtual Fall Commencement will be a traditional ceremony that officially recognizes each Gator graduate by name and offers a conferral of degrees. Speakers will include Chancellor Renu Khator and the deans of our five UHD colleges. Following the event, you will receive by mail a commemorative commencement booklet. More information about the ceremony and other activities associated with the celebration will be shared at the upcoming Virtual Commencement Orientation on Nov. 4, which I encourage you to attend.

I fully realize the importance of commencement to you, our students, and the many family members and friends that supported you along the way. As mentioned earlier, the decision to conduct these exercises virtually was not made lightly, but with everyone’s health at top of mind.

I would love nothing more than to greet you, this 2020 class of Gators, and shake your hands as you recognize this important moment in your academic journeys. Unfortunately, that will not be possible this year. I will, however, invite 2020 graduates from spring, summer and fall semesters to participate in a future in-person ceremony when we are able to gather safely.

I encourage all of you not to let the pandemic nor the news surrounding graduation distract you from the work remaining this semester. Focus on your classes and on successfully completing the semester. Be proud of your accomplishments and your resiliency, as I am certainly proud of you!

Stay the course, Gators … and more importantly, stay healthy.

Antonio D. Tillis, Ph.D.
Interim President, University of Houston-Downtown