Fall Class of 2020 to celebrate with iconic Western people, places, bagels

Photo by Laura Densmore / Western University

Milestones deserve celebrations.

And to help fall graduates mark their moment, Western is bringing campus icons to their doors and to their screens.

Grads will get a chance to experience places, people and things that have become symbols of their alma mater: photos on UC Hill, bagels from The Spoke, rock ballads as only Rick McGhie can belt them out.

And, even while the university is committed to providing in-person Convocation ceremonies when it is safe to do so, Western will also mail alumni gift boxes to students.

Graduation officially takes place on Oct. 23 with celebration events happening on Oct. 29. As with spring 2020 celebrations, all events will be virtual because of pandemic precautions.

Full details, and profiles of some extraordinary grads, can be found at https://www.uwo.ca/classof2020/.

“We’ve all had to be flexible, creative and innovative – and we want to honour that in our graduating students,” said Angie Mandich, director of convocation. “There are so many people involved in making this happen to support our students and our soon-to-be-alumni.”

The main event takes place on Oct. 29, with video messages and tributes from across the campus community.

The Class of 2020 will be able to take in one last lecture, this time from award-winning psychology professor Mike Atkinson, whose inspirational leadership of Western super-classes has won national acclaim.

Troubadour Rick McGhie, who has sung to and with Western students for more than four decades, will serve up some fan favourites.

And the Spoke will also introduce a new bagel dedicated to the graduating class, courtesy of a campus-wide contest to find a great new flavour. (So far, there have been 43 nominations in the USC-run contest.)

For those grads who ordinarily would pose and post with family and friends in front of University College atop the hill, downloadable photo frames, backgrounds and stickers will be available to place them on campus virtually, even if not in person.

They can pose while wearing their faculty’s gowns and hoods by renting regalia. (Mandich even offered a reminder that the hood should be worn label-side-down and “at the collarbone, not up around the neck.”)

The registrar’s and alumni relations offices have been preparing celebration boxes – including alumni pins and parchments ­– which each graduate will receive by mail.

Family and friends can congratulate graduates by photo or video message and new alumni can reciprocate with notes of ‘graditude’ to faculty, staff and fellow students who made their time at Western memorable.

“Graduation not only recognizes and celebrates the completion of their studies, but also marks the important transition from student to alumnus, and reinforces the notion of a lifelong relationship with Western, “ said Tyler Forkes, executive director of alumni relations.

He said an online program will include the names of all graduates “so their family and friends – wherever they are – can share in the moment. “