Teachers College’s first-ever virtual Convocation will include participation and viewership from the College’s extended community around the world.
The hour-long event will feature celebrity and student speakers who celebrate graduates’ often heroic responses to the global pandemic and the challenges they face in rebuilding society and reimagining the future.
[Convocation will be held on May 20th at 8 p.m. EDT. Visit the newly revamped Convocation 2020 website to learn how to view the hour-long ceremony and other details about this year’s celebration.]
The more than 2,000 graduates receiving their degrees will hear remarks by New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her leadership of the Times’ 1619 Project, which aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the American narrative.
Hannah-Jones will receive TC’s Medal for Distinguished Service, the highest honor the College bestows.
In a surprise announcement, TC has revealed that graduates will also hear a special greeting from community college educator and former Second Lady Jill Biden, who spoke at the College’s Convocation in 2010. Other pre-taped well-wishers already featured on the Convocation site include the media personality and TC alumna Dr. Ruth Westheimer; hip-hop pioneer Darryl McDaniels, co-founder of the group Run-DMC; the actress and producer Ricki Lake (Hairspray, the Ricki Lake talk show); the actor Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Succession); and celebrity restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, head chef of The Red Rooster in Harlem.
The global emphasis of TC’s virtual Convocation begins with the event’s evening starting time, which was chosen to accommodate international graduates who have returned to their home countries. That group includes two of the ceremony’s student speakers — Amann Syed Ahmad, receiving her Master’s degree from the Department of Curriculum & Teaching, who currently is in Denmark, and Woo-Jung Amber Kim, receiving her master’s degree from the Department of International & Transcultural Studies, who currently is in South Korea. The third student speaker, Rachel A. Norman, receiving her master’s degree from the Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis, has remained in New York City.
Our goal, from the first, has been to create an event that isn’t simply a substitute — that is heartfelt and special because it celebrates how our global TC community has come together because of the crisis and the ways we have used the digital medium to channel our ideas, our art and our humanity.
—Trish McNicholas, Senior Director of College Event Planning
The ceremony will also feature TC faculty member Cally Waite, Associate Professor of History & Education, who recently was named one of six recipients of the Spencer Foundation’s prestigious Spencer Mentor Awards, in a special role that will highlight the College’s international scope.
Two other students are also lending their talents to the event: Natalie Fabian, a student in the Department of Arts & Humanities, singing “What the World Needs Now is Love”; and Anderson Patrick Collin Smith, receiving his Ph.D. in English Education, reading an original poem he composed for Convocation, titled “What Matters Most.”
“No one could have anticipated the COVID pandemic, and of course we all wish we could hold a live ceremony,” says Trish McNicholas, Senior Director of College Event Planning. “But our goal, from the first, has been to create an event that isn’t simply a substitute — that is heartfelt and special because it celebrates how our global TC community has come together because of the crisis and the ways we have used the digital medium to channel our ideas, our art and our humanity. And people have come together yet again, from every part of the College, to help us do that. Nobody has said no to us. We are incredibly honored to have the opportunity to work on this ceremony that celebrates the class of 2020.”