Pitt holds first-ever online commencement ceremony


Zoom screenshot

Mark Novales speaking during the online 2020 commencement.

By Benjamin Nigrosh, News Editor

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Across the City, state and country, the Pitt community came together over Sunday morning to celebrate the achievements of the University’s graduating seniors.

In lieu of in-person commencement activities, Pitt hosted its first-ever virtual commencement ceremony due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It featured words from Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, Dean Kenyon Bonner, Provost Ann Cudd, several students, as well as numerous guest speakers including Gov. Tom Wolf, Mayor Bill Peduto, Mark Cuban and NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald II.

Gallagher opened the event, thanking the class of graduating seniors, and said he wished he could do so in person.

“For all of the Pitt students out there,” Gallagher said, “I cannot begin to express how deeply we feel your absence on all five of our campuses.”

Albert Tanjaya, a graduating computer science student, said the absence is felt by Pitt students across the country. But he said he is confident that he and his fellow classmates will be able to make it back to campus soon for a proper punctuation to their college experience.

“It’s not necessarily a goodbye, it’s like a farewell,” Tanjaya said. “We’ll see each other again — the people that we feel connected to, we’ll see again. The University is not going anywhere.”

In his remarks, Gallagher hoped for the same, and said this is an important time to remember that the precautions being taken were in place to keep Pitt students healthy.

“These are things that none of us wanted to have happened, but they were necessary,” Gallagher said. “And we must never forget that they were designed to alleviate suffering and save lives.”

Several student speakers gave short speeches to the graduating class. Mark Novales, a graduating business student, gave thanks for the years he was able to spend on Pitt’s campus.

“When I look back on my time at Pitt, I’m going to remember the laughs I had, the lessons I learned, the moments I had to grow and remember the relationships and the people I got to meet,” Novales said. “And especially now, I’m going to take a moment to be proud.”

Besides for congratulating the class of 2020 on their achievement, Bonner also announced the winners of two yearly awards given to Pitt seniors. He presented the Emma W. Locke award to Sarah Elizabeth Steward, and the Omicron Delta Kappa Senior of the Year award to Jordan Fields.

Before the chancellor virtually conferred degrees to students, Provost Cudd congratulated all students on their accomplishments to reach graduation.

“We are celebrating a milestone day that, on its own, in any given year, would be amazing under any circumstances,” Cudd said. “But during these exceptional days, it is even more remarkable and important.”