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Rockefeller’s 62nd Convocation to be held virtually this week

Hoods from a past Convocation ceremony

At Rockefeller each June, caps, gowns, and a brass band processional are the markers of the annual Convocation for Conferring Degrees. This year, due to ongoing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 illness, the usual in-person event will be replaced with a virtual ceremony on June 11. While it’s unprecedented for this formal affair to be held without an in-person gathering, organizers are working to preserve the spirit of the occasion.

There will still be a procession, albeit on screen, with musicians from the regular brass band playing in tandem from their respective homes. Richard P. Lifton, the university’s president, will host the event, and each student’s mentor will present a tribute to them and formally confirm that they have met the program’s matriculation requirements.

Diplomas as well as hoods and tassels are being delivered to each of the 30 graduating students ahead of time, and a link to view the ceremony will be made available to all participants on the day of the event. One benefit for students is that there is no limit on the number of guests they may invite. Members of the community are also invited to join; advance registration is recommended.

“This year’s graduates have truly achieved excellence, and they have made important advances in their fields,” says Sidney Strickland, dean of graduate and postgraduate studies. “Although the pandemic makes our traditional ceremony impossible, this occasion will nevertheless be special and memorable for the class of 2020, and I am greatly looking forward to celebrating with these 30 remarkable men and women and their families.”

In addition to students, four others will receive recognition: Alzatta Fogg, longtime manager of the Abby Dining Room, and Torsten N. Wiesel, Rockefeller’s Vincent and Brooke Astor Professor Emeritus and President Emeritus, will receive the David Rockefeller Award for Extraordinary Service; and Marnie S. Pillsbury, a trustee emerita, and Lucy Shapiro, Stanford’s Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research and director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine, will receive honorary degrees.

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