The Gator Nation is everywhere — even online.
The University of Florida announced this week that it will be celebrating class of 2020 graduates with a suite of virtual celebrations.
The nearly 10,000 students set to receive a diploma this semester may not be able to walk across a stage and shake hands with UF President Kent Fuchs, but they will get their moment with him and an opportunity to cheer on their classmates.
“I’m always proud of our Gator graduates, but I am especially proud of our Spring 2020 graduates for overcoming all the stress and upheaval of this turbulent period and pushing forward with a spirit of optimism and resilience,” Fuchs said. “Many of our students and their families are experiencing real hardship, and I admire and will always remember our students for finishing the year strong.”
Fuchs will kick off the slate of virtual events with a congratulatory video followed by introduction of UF alumnus, former Gator football player and WWE wrestler Thaddeus Bullard, also known as Titus O’Neil, who will deliver a commencement video.
Both videos will be posted online Wednesday.
Bullard, a well-known advocate for disadvantaged children, is the author of “There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Kid: How I Went from Stereotype to Prototype” released earlier this year.
He was scheduled to serve as the university wide commencement speaker for the April 30-May 3 graduation weekend that had to be rescheduled due to COVID-19.
The deans of UF colleges will recognize and congratulate their graduates in online celebrations that will go live when the in-person commencements would have been held. Celebrations may also include photos of the graduates, alumni speakers or student speakers, UF said.
Alumni and other members of the UF community are encouraged to share in the festivities by posting encouraging or inspirational messages using the hashtag #DearGators2020. Graduates are also invited to celebrate together using the #UFGrad hashtag.
Commencements will still be held for UF spring grads, though they have been pushed back to the weekend of July 31-Aug. 2 for bachelor’s, master’s and specialist’s degree candidates.
Spring doctoral candidates can join doctoral candidates scheduled to graduate at the Aug. 7 Summer Commencement which, as of now, will go on as scheduled.
UF recommends graduates and families make flexible travel arrangements in case the pandemic causes further changes to the schedule. Date and time updates will be posted on UF’s website.
UF is mailing commencement programs to graduates for delivery this weekend, accompanied by a personal letter from President Fuchs. Graduates or family members can also download programs online here for bachelor/master and specialist degrees and here for doctoral degrees.
Earlier Tuesday, UF outlined a plan that would see the campus reopen for the fall semester, welcoming students back in waves of 500-1,000, testing each student with a rapid coronavirus test.