Temple University held its 134th commencement ceremony virtually at 11 a.m. Thursday and featured speeches from President Richard Englert, Board of Trustees Chairman Mitchell Morgan, student commencement speaker Jennifer Sierra, Executive Vice President and Provost JoAnne Epps and representatives from each school and college.
Englert announced on March 5 the university planned to hold a virtual commencement ceremony and in-person ceremonies for each school and college throughout May, The Temple News reported.
In his opening remarks, Englert discussed how the buildings and activities on Temple’s campus have shaped students’ college experiences.
“I know this day may have seemed like it took forever, but now that it is finally here, I hope that you will take a moment to reflect on all that you have accomplished, as you think back to the day you first arrived on campus, Temple has changed, and so have you and I,” Englert said. “Our campus has always been a reflection of the past, present and future.”
Following Englert’s speech, Morgan described the values he hoped Temple instilled in the graduating class, like hard work, setting priorities and making one’s voice heard.
“I know this is not how we normally hold commencement, but we must respect the decisions of the city’s leadership during these late stages of the pandemic,” Morgan said. “Today, you are leaving Temple, but Temple is not leaving you.”
The university also held a virtual commencement ceremony in Spring 2020 and canceled all on-campus events, The Temple News reported.
In her speech, Sierra, who received a degree in sport and recreation management, described how students adapted to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, like delivering elevator pitches in class over Zoom and celebrating the end of the semester in their bedrooms.
“We have now had over 16 months of remote learning and internship opportunities, spending time away from campus and at home working tirelessly to stay on track,” Sierra said. “Quite literally, an experience no one before us has ever gone through.”
Epps acknowledged the struggles students overcame while living through the pandemic for the past 15 months.
“There is no way I can speak to you today without acknowledging the impact of the last 15 months on all of us, we’ve had losses, we’ve come together in ways we couldn’t have imagined, I often say we are making this up as we go along without a playbook,” Epps said. “It’s not like we could say, the last time we had a pandemic.”
In-person ceremonies for Temple’s individual schools and colleges are being held at the Temple Sports Complex, Geasey Field, the Liacouras Center and the Temple Performing Arts Center on May 6, 7, 20, and 21, The Temple News reported.