A Message from President Woetzel About Commencement 2020

Tuesday, Apr 07, 2020
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Dear Juilliard Students, Faculty and Staff,

I am so proud to be a member of our remarkable community.

Over the course of the past weeks, we have all made extremely challenging adjustments to stay safe, and to do our part in the global effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic. It has been beyond inspiring how, through it all, you have supported each other and have mobilized in a display of extraordinary resilience.

The faculty and staff are daily demonstrating their extraordinary commitment to students, and students are every day showing why they are the future of the arts. The education gurus Dr. Howard Gardner and Dr. Ellen Winner have described with admiration the quality of having an artistic habit of mind. What it means in this context, is adapting your knowledge and practice in ways that add to the overall possibilities for excellence in whatever situation one happens to be. We at Juilliard are truly seeing the strength of our artistic habits of mind at every turn, from staff who have supported our community tirelessly in this difficult transition, to faculty who have swiftly innovated their peerless skills to the virtual world, to students who are rising above these challenging circumstances to truly learn from this experience and go forward from it with more not less.

All of that said, I am truly sorry that the year has taken this unexpected turn, and has brought such hardships and heartbreak to so many people. This is not a spring any of us could have imagined just a few short weeks ago. And to those students who are slated to graduate this May, I know that this is not the closing semester you had hoped for. Please know that I share in your disappointment.

Regrettably, at this time I must share with you that we will not be able to conclude our year with our planned in-person Commencement activities. In light of the continued uncertainty of this ongoing pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to hold our 115th Commencement Ceremony, still scheduled for Friday, May 22, as an online, virtual gathering.

Please know that we are deeply committed to providing our graduating students, and their families and loved ones, a creative virtual ceremony that will honor them and celebrate their incredible accomplishments in the most meaningful way possible. All will be welcome to attend online on May 22. And looking ahead to Commencement 2021, we are working on ways to celebrate in person with members of the class of 2020 who are able to join us at that time. In the coming days, we will write again to provide you with more information about our virtual gathering as well as other creative ways to mark the occasion.

I want to express my gratitude again to all of you for your commitment to this institution and to each other, and I can’t wait to see you on the other side of this challenging time.

Warmest wishes,

President Damian Woetzel