May 16, 2020

Virtual Degree Conferral 2020

Brendan Dillon
Brendan Dillon, a member of the class of 2020 and president of the Student Government Association, spoke on behalf of the graduating class.

In April, Catholic University announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its usual commencement events held on the stately east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception wouldn’t be possible this year.

In May, the University shared that it would move forward with awarding honorary degrees, including one to its planned graduation speaker, Kevin Ryan, a 1999 alumnus. Ryan is president and CEO of Covenant House, the largest privately funded agency in the Americas providing shelter, food, immediate crisis care, and an array of other services to homeless and runaway youth.

In response to that announcement, Ryan tweeted: "Thank you Pres. Garvey for this honorary degree, 31 years after my @CatholicUniv graduation. I met my love, mentors & friends here, & am grateful to return. And honestly, this degree was much easier than the first one. Congratulations Class of 2020."

Ryan tweet

This week, he offered a “Commencement Address” on twitter. He also shared the short “speech” in the comments of the LiveStream ceremony right as the ceremony began, saying, “Congratulations to the Class of 2020. I am so sorry I cannot be with you today in person to give the graduation speech but I am cheering you all in spirit.”

The University moved its degree conferral ceremony online on May 16. Close to 4,000 tuned in from across the country, and the LiveStream event ended with a Zoom call showing the graduates from their homes, many celebrating in caps and gowns. In addition to Kevin Ryan, faculty, and staff of the University, family members, and friends of the graduates shared their personal congratulations in the comments of the LiveStream platform. The University hopes to have an on-campus commencement ceremony (including Ryan and the other honorary degree recipients) in August. 

Andrea Roane, former news anchor for WUSA9 and former University trustee, served as emcee for the online event. It featured speeches by Brendan Dillon, a member of the class of 2020; President Garvey; and Provost Aaron Dominguez. Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory, chancellor of the University, led the invocation and conferred the ecclesiastical degrees. Rev. Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M.Conv, University chaplain, closed the ceremony with a benediction.

Watch the recording of the concurrent Zoom gathering that was shown at the conclusion of the program.