NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Considering their commencement ceremonies will be held via teleconferencing technology in the name of social distancing, it should be no surprise to the members of Rutgers’ Class of 2020 that NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt plans to center his upcoming commencement speech around the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My speech is going to largely center on the fact that this Class of 2020 is a generation that is going to really tell us someday how this all worked out — how we worked our way through it and how they coped with being thrust into a virtually nonexistent job market, but also how they helped rewrite the rules of our new normal,” Holt told People magazine.
"How we work, how we shop and how we interact with each other — their generation will really be able to tell that full story," he says. "We, as journalists, are telling it in real time, but they will be the ones that talk to their grandkids or do a commencement speech 30 years from now talking about how this molded the person that they became."
Rutgers will stream a virtual celebration May 31 to honor the 2020 graduates of Rutgers-New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.
The virtual ceremony, which will begin at 2 p.m., will be streamed on the university’s commencement website, Facebook and YouTube channels and will incorporate many of the traditional customs associated with on-campus commencements, along with some new ones for an unprecedented time. The virtual commencement celebration, which is estimated to run between 60 to 75 minutes, will be available to the public.
As a national journalist covering all aspects of the COVID-19 crisis, Holt says he plans to share his unique perspective with graduates.
Graduates and their families will be able to showcase and celebrate their accomplishments through a collection of digital frames and stickers that will be available on Facebook and Instagram ahead of the celebration. Family and friends are invited to join in the experience. Students are encouraged to share their experience live on social media during the streaming program using #RutgersStrong and #RU2020.
In anticipation of a virtual ceremony, Rutgers President Robert Barchi commissioned a commencement task force with representation from graduation planners across the university. The task force explored ideas on how best to celebrate the university’s graduates, surveying students and eliciting feedback to ensure a program befitting their accomplishments.