By Julian Cardillo ’14May 23, 2020
The Brandeis University Class of 2020 will always carry the distinction of having its in-person Commencement Exercises delayed because of a global health crisis. But President Ron Liebowitz reminded graduates in recorded remarks Sunday not to define themselves by a setback, especially when they have hearts and minds to lead the world’s recovery as agents of positive change.
“On the one hand, the world has dealt your generation a swift and overwhelming jolt — on the other, it has put before you an opportunity to put your knowledge, smarts, and values to work, to be the ones to help us understand and adjust to radical new ways of living and thinking with optimism and a sense of fairness,” Liebowitz said. “You are ready.”
In his remarks, Brandeis Board of Trustees Chair Meyer Koplow ’72, P’02, P’05, echoed Liebowitz’s confidence in the Class of 2020.
“I have no doubt that, like all our Brandeis alumni, you will courageously and compassionately do all that you can to improve the lives of others and make the kind of difference that is so sorely needed in our world today,” Koplow said.
Speaking from his home, Liebowitz said graduates have already shown grace and adversity in the way they concluded their final academic year at Brandeis, which moved to remote learning March 12 and required most students to continue their studies off-campus.
In recorded remarks, Provost Lisa Lynch and Dean of Arts and Sciences Dorothy Hodgson also presented members of the Class of 2020 to Liebowitz so he could fulfill the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ legal requirement to officially confer degrees upon the graduating students.
A total of 865 undergraduate members of the Class of 2020 will receive diplomas, along with 241 from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management; 269 from the Brandeis International Business School; 267 from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; 111 from the Rabb School of Graduate and Professional Studies; and 23 who pursued joint Heller and GSAS degrees.
“Although we are holding this conferral of degrees virtually, it does not diminish the significance of this moment for you, for the faculty, and for the staff,” Liebowitz said.
Brandeis University will host an in-person ceremony on campus in spring 2021 to celebrate and honor the Class of 2020.
Victoria Richardson ’20 and Gervase Adams, Heller MBA ’20, will serve as the undergraduate and graduate speakers, respectively. The university will also recognize 2020 Honorary Degree recipients Ruth Calderon, scholar of Jewish religious texts and former member of the Israeli Knesset; Alan Hassenfeld, philanthropist and retired CEO of Hasbro and co-chair of the Brandeis International Business School Board of Advisors; Marta Kaufman ’78, television producer of “Friends”; and Howardena Pindell, American painter and mixed media artist whose body of work since 1960 confronts racism and inequality.
The university is hosting online Mini Celebrations for graduates and their families and friends May 24-June 1.
Academic departments organized Mini Celebrations to recognize students and provide an informal opportunity for classmates to reconnect virtually with one another and their faculty.
In welcoming the Class of 2020 into the alumni family, Brandeis Alumni Association President Lewis Brooks ’80, P’16, urged graduates to continue fostering the friendships they made on campus and to maintain ties with their alma mater.
“We all share something special: a unique bond that is Brandeis,” Brooks said. “You will find these Brandeis connections everywhere and I urge you to make and keep them throughout your life. You may all be in your homes right now, but you are also part of our house.”