April 3, 2020
To our graduating students, and to all members of the U of T community:
When the University took the necessary, but deeply disappointing decision to cancel in-person Spring 2020 Convocation ceremonies, I committed to providing details about alternative means of celebrating your graduation. We have been exploring different ways to recognize this important milestone, and I am pleased to share more details with you today.
Over the past few weeks, the Office of Convocation, in collaboration with the Offices of the President and the Chancellor, has led an extensive review of possible alternative celebrations that would respect the guidance from public health authorities, while acknowledging the achievements of our graduating class in an appropriate and fitting manner.
Accordingly, we are planning a celebration that pairs a virtual Convocation with in-person, graduation ceremonies hosted by our academic divisions.
The Chancellor, who is the Chair of Convocation, will convene a virtual Convocation to be broadcast on or before June 2, 2020, incorporating the core elements of a Convocation ceremony. Following the legal requirements under the University of Toronto Act, the Chancellor will confer degrees on all graduates. In these exceptional circumstances, all degrees will be conferred in absentia. Diploma parchments will then be couriered to graduates over the course of the next few weeks following the virtual ceremony.
When the public health situation stabilizes and it is possible to gather safely, individual academic divisions will then be able to host in-person graduation ceremonies, complete with many of the core elements of a traditional Convocation, including academic regalia, congratulatory remarks from academic leaders, a graduation speaker, and presentation of the graduates.
Of course, the uncertainties surrounding the present crisis make it impossible to provide firm dates for these in-person graduation ceremonies at this time. It is likely they will take place sometime after September 1, 2020 – as safety, availability, and space permit. Principals and Deans will be in touch at a later date with more details as soon as they are confirmed.
The past few weeks have been extremely difficult for our community, and perhaps especially so for our students. I want to take this opportunity to thank you – for your dedication, your commitment, your perseverance, your support of one another, and the many contributions you continue to make to the entire University of Toronto community.
As we approach the end of the term, we are all looking forward to recognizing your accomplishments. While a virtual Convocation may be more subdued than normal, I hope the exuberant graduation ceremonies that take place once the present crisis abates will be an opportunity for you, your families and friends, and your instructors to celebrate your achievements fully.
Meric S. Gertler
University of Toronto