May 18, 2021

94th Annual Commencement Provides Special Online Celebration of the Class of 2021

AN ONLINE GATHERING: Following a main livestream commencement event, each school held a zoom session (like this one with DBOS) to confer degrees on this spring's graduates.

Claremont Graduate University conferred degrees upon more than 400 graduates during a special virtual celebration of the university’s 94th annual Commencement, which was held Saturday afternoon, May 15.

The festivities kicked off with a special livestream event featuring President Len Jessup, Provost Patricia Easton, Board of Trustees Chair Tim Kirley, Graduate Student Council Acting President Arline Votruba, student speaker Nicole Dawson (MBA ’21), and honorary degree recipient Roberta Jenkins.

All of this year’s speakers acknowledged the unique circumstances posed by a global pandemic—including the necessity of shifting from an in-person ceremony to a virtual event—and praised the members of the Class of 2021 for facing these challenges and persevering in finishing their degrees.

“You have completed your degrees during a very challenging time,” Jenkins said during her remarks. She and her late husband Matthew have been involved with CGU for nearly 30 years. “You have persisted and succeeded, which is why you are here today.”

In her remarks, Dawson appealed to the graduates to be socially minded and to help build understanding during times of divisiveness and social unrest.

“Remember that you are the change we need,” she said, “remember that you are the light.”

According to the registrar’s office, this year’s graduates included about 90 doctoral students, 250 master’s students, and 80 recipients of certificates offered through various schools, including the Drucker School, School of Educational Studies, and School of Social Science, Policy & Evaluation.

Zoom Sessions and Breakout Rooms

The opening livestream event lasted for 20 minutes. It was followed by a suite of zoom sessions with individual schools and divisions of the university presided over by each’s respective dean or director.

Degrees were conferred upon graduates, followed by the draping of a special graduation stole, which was included in a graduation box mailed to each of this year’s degree recipients. Other activities included a celebratory toast.

During his toast to the Institute of Mathematical Sciences graduates, IMS Director Allon Percus included some lines of poetry on the sufferings of mathematicians that he felt were highly appropriate for the moment.

Wine glass in hand, Percus saluted this year’s students for being able to “perform matrix multiplications” and being able to “handle summations/with the assistance of certain libations.”

A TOAST AND A POEM: IMS Director Allon Percus paid a special tribute to this year’s math graduates during the IMS zoom session and degree conferral.

During the zoom sessions, graduates also were given a chance to address faculty members and classmates and express heartfelt thanks.

“I want to thank you, DeLacy,” said Daniel Gonzalez, a recipient of a master’s degree in Education, to SES Dean DeLacy Ganley, “and my parents who were instrumental in helping and guiding me, and my two sons for giving me energy to persevere and continue. Without the department’s support, I couldn’t have continued.”

During CISAT’s conferral ceremony, Director Lorne Olfman invited remarks from Juanita Dawson (MS, Information Systems and Technology, ’05), selected as one of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients (and whose daughter, Nicole, served as this year’s student speaker).

“CGU has provided me with new opportunities and experiences that have helped me to take action, change direction, and pivot as the cyber environment changes,” said Dawson, whose director’s position at Raytheon involves maintaining the company’s cybersecurity efforts. “I will leave you with my best advice which is ‘Use your best resources and become a resource. It’s a great thing to embrace your talents to support others.’ ”

In his charge to this year’s graduates, President Jessup not only encouraged them to move out into the world and have a positive impact on the people around them—“whether it’s a public health issue or a problem with your team”—but to also remember their identity as alumni members of this 95-year-old institution.

“You are a part of the CGU family and the CGU story,” he told them. “We are here for you. Come back and come often.”