Celebrating SJSU’s Fall 2020 Graduates While Looking Ahead To The Holidays

As we near the end of a difficult 2020, we have two end-of-year occasions—fall graduation and our extended holiday break—to which we can look forward. Each offers us a welcome respite from the challenges we have faced these past nine months.

Tomorrow, December 18, we will begin to celebrate and honor our mid-year graduates for the completion of their degree requirements by launching eight Fall 2020 graduate recognition websites. Though we all would rather gather in person for a traditional commencement ceremony, I am sure the entire campus community will band together to help make this occasion as memorable as it can possibly be for this special group of students.

Fall 2020 graduation banner

The graduates themselves, I know, not only have been busily completing their final exams, but they also have been contributing to their own digital recognition slides with personal, creative messages and photos that can then be shared with family and friends for years to come. I cannot wait to see how they put their individual stamps on graduation and offer their favorite memories and reflections on their time at San José State!

The graduate recognition websites also will feature video messages—including one from myself and one from Provost Vincent Del Casino, as well as deans, alumni, students and community members—that pay tribute to this historic graduating class. Our Special Events team has done a wonderful job putting together a digital experience that will give our new graduates and their families a celebratory platform to mark the occasion, and I appreciate the work and effort that went into this.

When the history books are written and when the current pandemic is a distant memory, this year’s graduating class will be remembered long into the future. By being part of this resilient, historic, and transformative group of graduates, these students now will be part of San José State’s celebrated history and legacy. They never will be forgotten, and we are so proud of what they have accomplished. So congratulations, Class of 2020!


The festive nature of fall graduation coincides well with the holiday season and the promise of the new year.

While the current stay-at-home order may make it challenging for many of us to spend time with friends, family and loved ones this holiday season, we remain—to echo the theme of our faculty and staff Seasonal Celebration last week—“together wherever. ” No matter the setting, the upcoming break offers an opportunity to reflect on those things for which we can be grateful.

The year 2020, we all know, has been a year for the ages and one none of us soon will forget. But even in the midst of many challenges and stresses, I am grateful for the perseverance of our campus community, which continues to help our students thrive.

I also am deeply grateful for our talented faculty and staff, who mentor and educate our students both in and outside the classroom. I am inspired daily by the hard work and dedication of those people who help make San José State one of the finest public universities in the country, one ranked by Money magazine as the nation’s Most Transformative University. And I am also grateful for our partners and friends, here in the City of San José and the broader community, whose support contributes in so many ways to the success of our students.

As we enjoy the holiday break and say goodbye to a difficult 2020, there are hopeful signs on the horizon and reasons to celebrate:

●      Development of a COVID-19 vaccine appears promising. While distribution of a vaccine in a manner that is fair and equitable poses its own challenges, the recent advances give us hope that we will return to some form of normalcy at some point in 2021. In addition, last week’s message from Chancellor White about the CSU system’s Fall 2021 plans also offers cause for optimism.

●      The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides a sense of comfort and security to thousands of young people—including many from our own campus community—recently was restored. This is welcome news, to say the least, and ensures that current DACA recipients at SJSU and elsewhere can continue to pursue their higher education aspirations.

●      Our “Most Transformative University” ranking by Money is not the only national recognition SJSU recently has received. This fall, San José State was listed as one of the Princeton Review’s Top 50 Green Colleges for 2021 and one of the Sierra Club’s top 50 2020 Cool Schools. These are just two of several distinctions we have earned in the environmental realm these past few weeks, a clear sign of the wonderful work being done by our Office of Sustainability.

●      And, on a lighter but no less joyful note, SJSU’s football team is 6-0 and on Saturday will play for the Mountain West championship! I am so proud of our players, Coach Brennan and his staff, and all those who have worked so hard. A noontime pep rally tomorrow should be a fun and inspiring send-off before the championship game against Boise State. Go Spartans!

To everyone else who considers themselves part of the Spartan community—and most especially our graduates—I wish you a happy and joyful of holidays, with peace, prosperity, and good health for you and your families in 2021.

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