This message was sent to undergraduate seniors approved to graduate on March 30.

Dear Wake Forest Undergraduate Class of 2020,

Every year, I look forward to shaking graduates’ hands as they walk across the stage on Hearn Plaza and make the transition from students to alumni. The pomp and circumstance, the families with big cameras and bigger smiles, the faculty congratulating you on your accomplishments — this is the vision I hold for what a Commencement experience should be. Because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, the governmental directives from the state of North Carolina and the ongoing concern for public health and safety, we have made the very difficult decision to postpone the Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020.

After you have been asked to sacrifice your final semester on campus — time with your faculty members, experiences with your friends and the comfort of this place to which you have given so much of yourselves — I will not ask you to sacrifice the celebration of your Wake Forest career. We look forward to holding Commencement at a future date, to be determined soon.

In the meantime, I’m excited about creating a virtual celebration to symbolically confer your degrees on May 18. More details to follow, but please plan to join us online for this fun and meaningful moment. You might want to order your regalia now so you can turn your tassel and toss your cap wherever you happen to be during this virtual event, and of course, be sure to bring your cap and gown with you for the future, in-person ceremony, too.

Because of our unusual circumstances, we want your help to shape the Commencement ceremony we will have when it is safe to gather again. We have developed the 2020 Undergraduate Commencement Survey [LINK was sent to seniors] for the class and will work with focus groups of graduates to determine the best way to recognize and mark the Undergraduate Class of 2020.

I am grateful for your understanding of the broader circumstances, your sacrifice for the greater good, and your resilience as you truly live out the spirit of Pro Humanitate. Class of 2020, you have already distinguished yourselves as individuals ready to lead with character in the face of hardship. As we endure and recover from this pandemic, our world will need you more than ever, and I am extremely pleased to send you out as beacons of hope.


Nathan O. Hatch