Live commencement ceremonies were among the many disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic created this spring, and the UW School of Dentistry was no exception. The outbreak forced the cancellation of the school’s traditional Hooding ceremony, in which students receive their doctoral hoods before an audience of family members, spouses, and friends.
The UW did create a virtual commencement video that included all of its schools. Of necessity, however, each school could receive only a relatively brief exposure as rows of student photo tiles streamed across the screen.
“We felt that our Class of 2020 deserved a fitting commencement celebration, especially considering the incredible challenges that they faced,” said Randy Newquist, Assistant Dean for Advancement and External Affairs, who also oversees the school’s Dental Alumni Association. The state’s suspension of all but urgent care in March eliminated most of the patient care the students usually deliver, he noted, and students were forced to remain at home for several weeks. The regular state licensing exam also had to be canceled, and the licensing issue was not resolved with the state until June.
“We decided to create a video that would have many of the elements of our live Hooding ceremony,” Newquist said. These include a welcoming message from the dean, a keynote speech from a faculty member selected by the graduating class, and a message from the class president. The video also includes the individual messages of appreciation written by the students and normally displayed on screen on the Meany Hall stage as each student receives their hood.
“Our students work so hard for four years to get to this point, and it was such a disappointment for them not to have a live Hooding ceremony,” he said. “We hope that this video will be a keepsake for them that makes their final memory of dental school a happy one.”