The Mary Baldwin family drew upon a “sense of community reaching beyond time and space,” as Chaplain Katherine Low said in her invocation, to celebrate graduates during the university’s virtual Commencement ceremony starting at 10 a.m. on May 24.
Welcoming the Class of 2020 and their families, friends, and loved ones, MBU President Pamela R. Fox honored the efforts put forth by so many towards achieving a college or graduate education.
“To each of our graduates, this day celebrates the challenges you have overcome, the victories you have already garnered, and joyously anticipates the contributions you will make,” she said.
Speaking for the entire MBU community, Fox acknowledged the disappointment of not being able to gather in person for the traditional Commencement ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic, but reassured graduates that the significance of their graduation is still very much intact.
“The COVID-19 pandemic does not define you as a class or as individuals,” Fox said. “You are now Mary Baldwin graduates. You embody the values of our founders: the centrality of women’s education, the breadth and depth of critical thinking … an obligation to society and service, and a holistic approach to a life well lived.”
Fox also officially conferred degrees, naming each of the university’s 15 degree programs from doctorate to bachelor’s. MBU awarded 265 undergraduate degrees to residential and online students, and 210 graduate degrees in business, education — including the first-ever awarding of the master of science in Applied Behavior Analysis — health sciences, and Shakespeare and Performance. (Graduate numbers as of May 15.)
Offering a unique perspective on the occasion was Board of Trustees Chair Gabby Gelzer McCree ’83, who recorded reflections and best wishes from her home in New York. Drawing lines of connection between her Mary Baldwin experiences and milestones in her career, family, community service, and leadership over the years, she offered graduates a vision of what their own future can hold.
“You all have your own unique Mary Baldwin story,” McCree said. “You cannot see how it will inform your life ahead, but I assure you, it will … I believe your Mary Baldwin experience will enable you to respond in your own way to live out a meaningful and fulfilling path, always with an eye to helping others along the way.”
“I believe your Mary Baldwin experience will enable you to respond in your own way to live out a meaningful and fulfilling path, always with an eye to helping others along the way.”
Gabby Gelzer McCree ’83, Chair, Board of Trustees
Provost Ty Buckman and the deans of MBU’s five academic colleges prompted graduates both to look back at all they have accomplished and to look forward with confidence in their abilities.
“Graduates of the Class of 2020, as your provost, it has been a true honor to get to know you, to meet you in the hallways and on the sidewalks … to be part of your community, a community that you’ve played a vital role in building,” said Buckman.
“You’re beginning a new phase,” said Martha Walker, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “From here, it might look more uncertain than what you’ve just come from, but your successes are bound to be even greater.”
Giving a special tribute to a group of historic graduates within the Class of 2020 was Dean of the Mary Baldwin College for Women Carey Usher.
“With your dignity and pride, your grace, your wisdom, and passion, as the last single-sex entering class, you helped us build a new Mary Baldwin College for Women, one that honors the legacy and the community and the sisterhood that is so, so important to all of us, not just to women,” said Usher, about the students who entered Mary Baldwin during the 2016-17 academic year and are now graduating as the final all-women class in the undergraduate residential program.
In addition to recorded speeches and remarks, MBU’s virtual Commencement also features a celebratory slide for each graduate, recognizing them by name and listing their degree and Latin honors. Award recipients for 2020 also garner a mention on the celebratory page. MBU social media is also sharing select photos, congratulations, memories, class spirit, and best wishes for 2020 graduates across all channels under the hashtag #MBU20.
“You’re beginning a new phase. From here, it might look more uncertain than what you’ve just come from, but your successes are bound to be even greater.”
Martha Walker, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences