Interim President Michael Bernstein Message to Class of 2020


I have an important and poignant message
to share with the members of the Class of 2020. Amidst all the challenges that have
come your way due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the abrupt transition to on-line learning,
the imposition of strict social-distancing protocols that have cancelled campus events
and activities, the fearsome threat of the coronavirus itself, to name a few. It is
now also clear that we will not be able to hold our Spring Commencement ceremony, in
person, on Friday, May 22. We have made this difficult decision in a
deliberate and careful way with input from our medical experts, and in conformity with
guidelines established by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the
Governor’s Office of the State of New York. Our choice ensures the well-being of our community
and our loved ones. I assure you all appropriately completed degrees
will be conferred as scheduled and, as needed, information will be forwarded to professional licensing bodies. You should expect receipt of your formal diplomas
within two months of your graduation date. As I know you are aware, countless graduation
celebrations are now being reimagined nationwide for the Class of 2020. These unexpected and disheartening circumstances
will not, of course, make these occasions any less significant, nor less joyous. The accomplishments we will celebrate on your
behalf, will always be real and vivid. In this regard, I want to thank you for gifting
us a moment of joy during an otherwise extremely difficult time. It is important to remember that even now,
exciting milestones are still reached. Your accomplishments will lift our spirits
immensely. We have begun assessing alternatives for the
May Commencement Ceremony. A team of University faculty, staff, and students
are evaluating several options. I particularly want to thank the USG and GSO
leadership, for providing their insights in this effort and for working to secure the
input of their peers. Of course, as decisions are made, you will
receive timely updates from the University Commencement Office through your stonybrook
email address. Whatever ultimate arrangements we make, it
is also our intention that on May 22 itself, we will bring together our graduating class
in a virtual setting so that we may formally bestow your degrees. Details about this event will be forthcoming. I am very sorry that your final semester at
Stony Brook has been derailed by this tragic public health crisis. And I want to thank all of you, who in so many
ways have supported our community as we confront this unprecedented emergency. It’s that very spirit for which your class
– the Class of 2020 — will always be uniquely known.

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