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CMU virtual commencement ceremony sustains tradition while reflecting the times

CMU President Tim Foster honors graduates with letter from the future

On Saturday, May 16 technology will make possible the timely celebration of Colorado Mesa University’s spring 2020 graduates. A virtual ceremony is happening despite the  pandemic that interrupted planning for the traditional event. President Tim Foster announced CMU’s commitment to upholding this momentous event last March.The planning has been underway since to reinvent one of the most honored traditions of the university and one of the most important for the 1,191 students earning 1,292 degrees and certificates this spring.  

The graduates earned technical and professional certificates and associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. 

With traditional graduation ceremonies deferred until August, several spring graduates opted to participate in the first-of-its-kind virtual commencement. While the format is changed, the importance of the educational milestone is still reflected in the program. Remarks from campus officials will be complemented by virtual appearances from Colorado Governor Jared Polis, United States Senator Cory Gardner and United States Senator Michael Bennett. 

“Colorado’s highest-ranking elected leaders are participating alongside our Maverick graduates during this new chapter in higher education’s history where commencement is necessarily taking place in a virtual space,” said Foster. 

Participating students created short video clips of themselves that are included in the commencement ceremony program video. During the program several high-profile Maverick alumni also made congratulatory videos including TSheets Founder Matt Rissell, NFL player and coach Ben Steele, 3D printer co-founder Chuck Hull and other alumni who voiced their support for the pioneering graduates. 

COVID-19 impacts required May’s traditional, in-person graduation to be postponed. CMU gave students two options and a number of students chose to participate in both the virtual and the future in-person ceremony.

Foster congratulated all the graduating students in a letter from his future self to the future self graduates. 

Through the commencement letter Foster expressed his confidence in their futures despite the challenges they faced during their final semester.  

“By now in the year 2030, many of you are well into your careers. Memories of 2020 may have faded a bit. Don’t let them! Remember what you did. Remember who you were. Today many of you have families. Some of you are corporate leaders, humanitarians and volunteers. Some of you are tradespeople and engineers or architects and medical professionals. No matter where you are now, or what you’re doing, you all share a common ground. In 2020, together, you transcended a great challenge. And it made you better. Now you’re passing that knowledge and Maverick spirit forward just like those who came before you. History shows you made the necessary sacrifices. That was you then. This is you now. And the next generation will read and study about who you were and what you experienced and how you shaped the future world. “ 

The full version of Foster’s letter can be read here. 

In addition to state-wide leaders, alumni, campus officials and special guests CMU members of the Board of Trustees also participated in the virtual commencement. Stephanie Motter, Doug Quimby, Kasia Iwaniczko-MacLeod, Alison Griffin, Ray Anilionus, Alex Sanchez and Amy Lentz join chair of the board David Reed congratulating student graduates. 

“I’m humbled to see the creativity in our Mavericks persevering and overcoming challenges this year to graduate this spring,” said Reed. “They deserve today and the future belongs to them!” 

A full video of the virtual commitment will be available here after the live broadcast. 


Written by David Ludlam