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UNR finding untraditional ways to honor Class of 2020

As mid-May nears and students complete final exams, there is one group of students whose time at the University of Nevada, Reno is ending without the planned and expected fanfare.

With commencement exercises postponed, the university community has pulled together in an effort to celebrate its graduates online. Virtual celebrations are not meant to replace traditional commencement ceremonies but rather offer the graduates a way to share their accomplishments as they finish their degrees.

Available for viewing at unr.edu/celebrations, virtual celebrations are just one of the ways the university’s colleges and schools are honoring the Class of 2020.

This spring, the university will confer 3,240 degrees – 2,576 bachelor’s degrees and 601 advanced degrees. In the School of Medicine, 63 degrees will be awarded in a virtual hooding celebration at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 14. This online ceremony was supported by medical school graduates since they are moving on to their residencies, many of which are out of state.

Additionally, Tyler Harris was selected as the spring 2020 Herz Gold Medalist. The university is also recognizing 11 senior scholars from six colleges and five schools.

“We are proud to recognize the outstanding, enduring and diligent efforts of individuals that reflect the sacrifice, spirit and mission of our university,” UNR President Marc Johnson said. “While students aren’t walking across the stage this May, they are receiving notable academic degrees as a result of impressive fortitude and unyielding determination during an unprecedented time.”

Most virtual celebration pages include a list of graduates by college, school or unit. They include a video message from Johnson as well as either a written or video message from their dean and other university faculty.

Also, as part of the website, graduates were given the opportunity to add a photo to their listing as well as a note about their time at the university.

Graduate profiles are also sharable on social media. Additionally, the complete listing of graduates will be online in a virtual program featuring the video message from Johnson, School of Medicine Dean Tom Schwenk and letters from ASUN and GSA presidents.

The university is encouraging the community to show its pride and publicly recognize the Class of 2020 by decorating outside spaces with Nevada Wolf Pack memorabilia in an effort to turn the community blue May 14-16.

Additionally, community partners and organizations are encouraged to take photos of their efforts and to post their messages of congratulations to social media using #PackPride.

“This is a group of students who were racing to the finish line of their university careers when the global health crisis forced a tremendous amount of unplanned change,” Johnson said. “Yet, they adjusted, stayed focused and overcame every hurdle to achieve one of life’s most important milestones.”

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