With the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the University of Michigan’s traditional Spring Commencement activities, the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses are designing alternative ways to recognize the Class of 2020.

President Mark Schlissel sent an email April 9 to Ann Arbor campus students outlining plans for online and social media content to celebrate this year’s spring graduates, with an in-person commencement ceremony at a future date yet to be determined.

“Commencement is a very special time for all of us at U-M,” Schlissel said. “We all recognize how great an accomplishment this is and share the goal of making a commencement ceremony as meaningful as possible when we are able.”

Meanwhile, the university has extended pandemic-related restrictions following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s April 9 announcement that her previous statewide stay-at-home order now reaches through April 30.

U-M’s ban on all international and domestic travel, previously set to expire April 21, will remain in effect until further notice. All in-person campus events also will remain canceled through April 30. The previous deadline had been April 21.

In this video, President Mark Schlissel updates students about the COVID-19 situation at U-M.

Regarding commencement, Schlissel said the university is working with members of the Ann Arbor campus’ Class of 2020 to find a date for the official, in-person ceremony and is considering sometime next spring. Suggestions can be emailed to springcommencement@umich.edu.

Schlissel said the days leading up to the previously scheduled ceremony on May 2 will include a variety of special online performances and greetings. Graduates are invited to submit photos, videos and quotes capturing their experiences as Wolverines.

Schlissel said he’ll post his address to graduates on the morning of May 2.

“This won’t be an online ‘commencement ceremony’ and will not follow any strict schedule. Rather, it’s a way to mark the day while allowing you to enjoy this content on your own schedule,” he said.

Plans also are underway at UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint for alternate activities. UM-Dearborn spring and summer graduates are invited to participate in the winter ceremony Dec. 19, and UM-Flint has tentatively set Aug. 16 as an alternate date for the spring ceremony.

The president thanked students for persevering during the pandemic, adapting to remote instruction, following social distancing recommendations and helping their peers and the larger community.

“This semester has been one of the most challenging in the long history of the University of Michigan — for both your studies and your personal and family lives. Your resilience in the face of great adversity has been inspiring,” Schlissel said.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has taken much from us, we remain a strong and resilient university, in large part because of the talented students who choose U-M. We are great because you are great.”

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