May 12, 2020

To the William Paterson Community:

Two weeks from today, we will celebrate Commencement for the William Paterson University Class of 2020 with a May 26 virtual ceremony hosted on the Marching Orders platform. I want to take a moment to give everyone an overview of what to expect on that Tuesday and share ways in which we can all participate in the event and show our graduates just how proud of them we are. As an academic community, there is no greater milestone for our students and no better opportunity for all of us – fellow students, faculty, and staff – to join together and honor them for their considerable achievements. After years of hard work and persistence in the face of often tremendous challenge and adversity, they have reached the goal of earning their college degree.
At William Paterson, we have a great tradition of doing everything we can to mark this special occasion in the lives of our graduates. While, right now, that means something different than it has in years past, the day is nonetheless as important as ever for our graduates, their families, and our community. Given the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will come together virtually for now. A live, in-person ceremony will follow as soon as circumstances allow.
The virtual ceremony is a prerecorded event for both undergraduate and graduate students that will be available for viewing by the entire University community, as well as families and friends. The link to the ceremony will be posted on the  official Commencement webpage  and be viewable starting at 9 a.m. on the 26 th . 
Viewers will be greeted by  Provost Josh Powers , who will welcome everyone and introduce the speakers, beginning with student speakers  Qynn Pascual , who will receive a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education, and  Bryan Kopko ‘18, MBA ’20 , who received a master’s degree in business administration in January. Next, you will hear from our  Board of Trustees Chair Michael Seeve  and then  Alumni Association President Domenico DiMaio . We will then have the honor of hearing from New Jersey  Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis , who will deliver the keynote address. Finally, in terms of speakers, it will be my privilege to address the graduates, families, and friends before formally conferring the degrees.
Then comes the part of the ceremony that will really bring smiles to your faces and tears to your eyes – the roll call of individual slides dedicated to each graduating student, which will include the graduate’s name, degree, major, and any personalized photos, quotes, and other messages they provide. These can be viewed in groups by undergraduate, graduate, or college. All of the approximately 2,400 degree recipients can be viewed consecutively, or you can pick and choose which slides to view. Our graduates always come up with great graduation cap messages and other ways of conveying their excitement and gratitude, and I know they will take advantage of this medium to express themselves in powerful and creative ways.
The success of our students is also an opportunity to reflect on the good work of our faculty and staff. In celebrating them, we also celebrate the diverse and dynamic community that is William Paterson University. I hope you will take the time to view the ceremony, which will be available on demand for the next year, and show our graduates your Pioneer Pride on social media using the hashtag  #WPUNJ2020 . Graduates can participate in the tradition of inspiring and artistic cap decoration by sharing their messages and designs with the hashtag  #CapsOfWP . We will be sharing these and other social media highlights on the official Commencement page and University social media channels.
I look forward to celebrating our graduates soon! In the meantime, please check the  FAQ section  of the Commencement page for additional information. 
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD