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Convocation: An important message from President Gertler

March 25, 2020

To our graduating students, and to all members of the U of T community:

Over the past two weeks, members of the University of Toronto community have risen to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic with remarkable generosity, patience and creativity, as we have faced one difficult decision after another. Our students, in particular, have shown tremendous resolve in completing their courses under extremely stressful circumstances. 

From the beginning of this crisis, we had hoped that one particular decision would not be necessary. Convocation is that special time of year when our academic community comes together to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating students. We all cherish this great U of T tradition, when we witness first-hand the excitement of our graduating students – and the pride of their families – as they cross the stage in Convocation Hall.

We have consistently relied on the guidance from public health authorities as we have navigated our way through the pandemic. Unfortunately, the latest guidance indicates that the need for physical distancing to limit or slow the spread of the virus will continue for some time. It is for this reason that we have taken the difficult decision to cancel all Convocation ceremonies for the Spring 2020 season, previously scheduled to take place from June 2-19. 

Students who complete their degree requirements will still graduate and receive their degrees and parchments. We are currently exploring possible alternative means of celebrating your graduation, and we will be back in touch with you as soon as possible with more information. In the meantime, I invite you to consult our COVID-19 website for the latest updates. 

We appreciate that this decision will come as a huge disappointment to our graduating students, their families, friends, teachers and mentors. While many other universities have come to a similar decision, this does little to diminish our shared disappointment. We take enormous pride in your accomplishments, and we want to give you the send-off you deserve.

You have learned and achieved so much during your years at U of T. And your presence has strengthened our academic community through your countless contributions inside and outside the classroom. Receiving your degree is one of the most important milestones in your life. We are so sorry that we cannot celebrate this achievement in the traditional way.

Convocation is an occasion to look back with pride and to look forward with hope. Even though we cannot gather in person, we remain tremendously proud of the Class of 2T0. And from what I have seen and heard of your leadership in this most difficult time, we have all the more reason to hope – both for your own success in the years to come, and for the future of our society.


Meric S. Gertler
University of Toronto

Read the U of T News story on this topic.