Commencement Postponed to June 2022
Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation
March 1, 2021
Pardee RAND traditionally holds its Commencement and Alumni Weekend every two years. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago, we postponed the June 2020 event and initially — optimistically — planned to hold it in the fall. When it became clear that wouldn't be possible, we decided to wait until June 2021, with the hope that we could gather in person.
By the end of this January, we realized that an in-person event wasn’t going to work, even this June. “We immediately set to work developing a unique, hybrid event,” Dean Susan Marquis explained. The plan was to have Marquis, RAND president and CEO Michael Rich, and Associate Dean Rachel Swanger participate live from the RAND courtyard. “A robot and VR camera would welcome online participants and give a tour of the school and RAND,” she added, “with virtual handoffs of diplomas from me to the graduates, wherever they might be, and recordings of our Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients, plus alumni sending good wishes.”
“Commencement isn’t just about conferring degrees. [It’s] the chance to come together, to see and hug old friends, to fully feel that moment when their dissertation advisor puts the Ph.D. hood over their heads.”
—Dean Susan Marquis
When the news came out that the school could not have a full, in-person commencement, however, Marquis began to hear from our new and soon-to-be alumni.
“They were clear,” she said. “They appreciated the effort we had put into planning, but they were also clear that Commencement isn’t just about conferring degrees. What they really wanted was the chance to come together, to see and hug old friends, to fully feel that moment when their dissertation advisor puts the Ph.D. hood over their heads, to be able to thank — in person — their friends, family, faculty, and staff who made this moment possible.”
Marquis said her conversations with alumni were thoughtful, touching, and eye-opening, and she shared the news with school staff and faculty.
“As we discreetly dabbed the tears from our eyes, we realized that’s what we want, too.”
With all that in mind, Marquis added, Pardee RAND is now making plans to eagerly welcome its new grads, its “kind-of-recent grads,” and the entire Pardee RAND community for a full, in-person Commencement and Alumni Weekend June 17-18, 2022.