Virtual celebration planned for Rice’s 107th commencement

Tune in as Rice recognizes the Class of 2020 with speeches, special guests and more

Rice University’s 107th commencement will be a different kind of ceremony.

Rice University’s 107th commencement will take place online May 16 at (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

Rice University’s 107th commencement will take place online May 16 at (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

It won’t take place in the sun-drenched Academic Quad, packed to the hedges with happy graduates and their loved ones.

Yet commencement this year will still be a vibrant — albeit virtual — celebration of the Class of 2020 delivered in online videos: one virtual commencement each for undergraduates, advanced degree recipients and doctoral degree recipients.

The three videos, which will go live on May 16, come complete with cameos and special guest appearances, speeches by fellow students, greetings from deans and college magisters, light-hearted slideshows and a massive roundup of photos for the entire graduating class — no small feat with Rice students now scattered across the globe.

“Graduating is an incredible achievement, one that I don’t think I really grasped until just recently,” said outgoing Student Association president Grace Wickerson, who will be among this year’s speakers. She hopes the videos will encourage graduates from afar.

“Celebrating together on May 16 is a way our class can unite during this time of social distancing,” Wickerson said. “I’m so glad that have been a part of the Class of 2020, and I can’t wait to honor our achievement.”

The virtual commencement ceremonies will be broadcast simultaneously on Facebook and YouTube, beginning with the advanced degrees ceremony at 11 a.m. CDT. The doctoral ceremony will be shown at 1 p.m. CDT, followed by the undergraduate ceremony at 3.

If you aren’t able to watch the ceremonies live, the videos will remain on Rice’s commencement page — as well as Facebook and YouTube — for viewers to enjoy on their own and share with others.

The names of each graduating Owl will be read during the ceremonies. After the ceremonies have ended, the videos will be time-stamped so viewers can skip ahead to a particular college or school during a future viewing.

An on-campus, in-person commencement ceremony will be held at a later date.

Watch Rice University’s 107th commencement at, or on May 16. For more information, visit

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.