Messages from the University

May Commencement: Sharing difficult news

Dear Class of 2020 students and families,

I hope this email finds you and your loved ones safe and well — and please know how immensely grateful we all are for the sacrifices you are currently making to protect yourselves, your communities, the country, and the world. This is, indeed, an extraordinary time, and we must continue to pull together and harness our collective strength in service of the greater good as we work quickly and diligently to flatten the curve and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Although this week is off to another frenzied start, with even more news pouring in from our leaders and the Centers for Disease Control, I ask that you take a moment to pause and watch this video address to you — our graduating students and family members.

A Message to the Class of 2020 | Washington University

Since I recorded this video earlier in the day, the words “I’m truly sorry” have continued to resonate with me. Above all else, I do want you to know how truly sorry I am that this is not turning out to be the end of the semester we had planned or dreamed about. Nonetheless, I’m grateful you are taking the time to watch, listen, and understand the role you play to radically curb this current pandemic. One day, when our children and grandchildren read about this moment, I hope they, too, will learn about the sacrifices you made.

As I mentioned in the video message, we are currently working through plans for what will happen in order for you to officially graduate, and importantly, how we can celebrate your accomplishments together, for now virtually, and, we hope, in person a bit down the road. You can expect to learn more about those plans very soon and throughout the remainder of the semester.

Thank you, once again, for all the ways you represent the Washington University values of leadership, sacrifice, and civic duty as you help us fulfill our mission to improve lives in service of the greater good. Until the time comes when we have the chance to see each other again and celebrate this significant milestone, I encourage you to be well, stay safe, and know we are thinking of you and wishing you all the best in the days and weeks ahead.

Chancellor Andrew D. Martin