Virginia Tech’s online commencement for the Class of 2020 will feature inspirational messages from notable Hokies, including Miss America 2020 Camille Schrier, legendary defensive coordinator Bud Foster, and world-renowned poet and University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni.

The first-of-its-kind event on Friday, May 15, at 6:30 p.m. ET will mark an important milestone for seniors and is a chance to honor the years of dedication and hard work that brought students to graduation.

Participants will be able to watch the ceremony with family and friends near and far while sharing comments and photos with one another using an online platform. The ceremony will be available on and will be viewable on-demand afterward.

During the ceremony, graduates will also have the opportunity to create their own experience by listening to a message from their college dean and hearing their name read. The online ceremony will be a unique way for Hokies everywhere to take part in commencement. The Corps of Cadets and ROTC programs will also be featured with an online version of their special ceremony.

The ceremony will incorporate traditional commencement staples, including congratulations from the president and provost and remarks from student speakers.

The 2020 online commencement is not what senior Hokies envisioned for their graduation ceremony. Nonetheless, Hokie Nation can gather online to recognize a special group of students who have worked hard and earned this moment to be honored and celebrated, even as COVID-19 has changed the world we are all living in.

“Our graduates have demonstrated their ability to take on a global challenge and succeed. They have shown a deep commitment to the well-being of our community, which we will forever appreciate,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “We will do all we can to give the Class of 2020 the honor and celebration they deserve.”

This marks the first time in history the university’s commencement ceremony has been held solely online. Virginia Tech announced last month the ceremony would move online amid the worldwide effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, joining peers across the state and the country. The once-in-a-century pandemic has upended life in all corners of society, including commencement ceremonies at colleges nearly everywhere.

The online ceremony will bring together all Virginia Tech campuses and students to celebrate, including undergraduate candidates, master’s graduates, Ph.D.s, doctors of veterinary medicine, and Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and graduate students from Blacksburg, Roanoke, and Northern Virginia.

The ceremony will include remarks from President Sands and Provost Cyril Clarke. There will also be messages from Foster, the former defensive coordinator who now serves as special assistant to the athletic director; Schrier, Miss America and Class of 2018 alumna; and a poem from Giovanni, world-renowned poet and University Distinguished Professor in the Department of English.

Giovanni was the Class of 2020 class ring namesake and was honored for her longtime service and support to the university. Each class selects an honorary namesake. The William H. Ruffner Medal, which honors individuals who have performed notable and distinguished service to the university, will also be conveyed as part of commencement.

In the lead up to commencement, Hokies are encouraged to tag their cap and gown photos with the #HokieGrad hashtag on social media and submit these photos to Hokies are also encouraged to submit video clips of their favorite college memories to for a chance to be featured in the Humans of VT video that will play during the ceremony.

Alumni can also submit a 10-20 second video with words of advice for the Class of 2020 by emailing [email protected], and friends and family can share a 10-20 second video message to their #HokieGrad via

In addition to the online ceremony, the Class of 2020 is invited to participate in formal commencement ceremonies in December 2020 or May 2021. All graduating students and at least two guests are also invited to campus this fall to celebrate commencement with a senior tailgate and complimentary attendance to the Sept. 26 home football game, conditions permitting.

For the latest information on the university’s response to the coronavirus, visit Virginia Tech’s COVID-19 website. Visit the university’s commencement website for detailed information on commencement-related activities.