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2020 Spring Commencement details announced

May 6, 2020 By Doug Erickson

UW–Madison will confer nearly 8,500 degrees Saturday during a virtual commencement ceremony that will be released at beginning at noon CDT.

The ceremony is pre-taped, not live, and is available to the public. No password is needed. The video will remain on the website so that people can watch the ceremony at the time most convenient to them.

As previously announced, all commencement activities this spring are being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. The university plans to hold an in-person event to formally celebrate the Class of 2020 when it is safe to again gather in large numbers.

“The Class of 2020 has been resilient and adaptable, finishing their schooling in the midst of a global pandemic.  I hope they will celebrate their accomplishments,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “Their diplomas from this great public institution tell the world they are ready and able to help build a future that will prevent such tragedies.”

The graduates in the Class of 2020 are well-equipped for this challenge, Blank says. They have voted in record numbers, helped to perform more than 30,000 hours of community volunteer work, and made UW–Madison the #1 university in the nation for Peace Corps volunteers. They are Rhodes Scholar finalists, national champion athletes, inventors, entrepreneurs, and dedicated students who have demonstrated a commitment to bringing this nation and the world to a better place. Examples of notable graduates this spring can be found here.

Preliminary figures show 8,460 degrees will be conferred Saturday (6,241 undergraduate, 1,352 masters and 867 doctoral). The virtual commencement ceremony will include pre-taped remarks from Chancellor Blank, senior class officers Lauren Sorensen (president) and Alyssa Birkeland (vice president), and keynote speaker James Patterson. Patterson, the creator of the Alex Cross and Women’s Murder Club series of novels, is considered the most successful author today of adult fiction, with sales of 400 million.

Business students in the spotlight

Following the university ceremony, on Saturday night the Wisconsin School of Business will salute the UW–Madison Class of 2020 by painting Grainger Hall in vivid red light and inspiring congratulatory messages.

The event, called Business Badgers Light the Way Forward, will congratulate students, as well as share unity messages building on the Badger Strong theme. Using projection mapping, the east side of Grainger Hall will transform into a giant illuminated presentation, four stories high and more than 150 feet long. The rotating graphics will feature the names of every WSB graduate, including those completing undergraduate BBAs as well MBAs and PhDs.

Projection will begin at 9 p.m. and continue through midnight.

The best way to view the display is through a Facebook live streaming video at or  The live stream is scheduled to cover the duration of the exhibit.

Passersby will be able to view the display from their automobiles, but there is no parking available on the busy street. In compliance with social distancing, pedestrians should not gather on the sidewalks in groups. For more information about the event, contact

Typhaine Morrisson, (608) 770-2879,, or David Giroux, (608) 235-5359,

Get social

Graduates, family and friends are encouraged to share their commencement experiences through social media using the hashtag #UWGrad. For more information on commencement, please see