Congratulations to the class of 2021!
The last year has been unprecedented for all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all of our personal and professional lives. At UNM, nearly all activities went virtual starting March 13, 2020. Students, faculty, and staff have done remarkably well despite the circumstances, and I thank everyone in our department for their persistence and professionalism in maintaining educational continuity for the last fourteen months.
The class of 2021 has overcome collective and individual challenges greater than other graduating classes have faced for decades. The class of 2020 overcame a severely disrupted semester; you have overcome more than a year of disruption, including the most exhausting academic year that I have encountered. I do not know the personal challenges that each of you have faced, but I know that students across UNM have suffered illness, unemployment, loss of loved ones, isolation, and anxiety, among other difficulties. Whatever your individual experience has been this past year, you should be proud that you have completed your degree despite the unprecedented difficulties that 2020 and 2021 have brought.
We did not hold an in-person graduation ceremony in 2020, and it was a difficult decision to cancel the in-person event again in 2021. Although the UNM main graduation ceremony will be conducted in person, the university’s decision to allow small, in-person ceremonies came too late for us to organize our own event. I recognize that graduates and their families will not experience a ceremony such as past graduates have had, and I know that it is a disappointment for many graduates and their families that there will be no departmental ceremony this year.
We can’t replace an in-person ceremony. We’re doing three things to recognize your accomplishments and provide some measure of closure to your degree program.
First, anyone who is graduating in Spring 2021 is hereby formally invited to participate in any future, in-person ceremonies we will have. We want you to have the chance to celebrate your accomplishment in person in an in-person event. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15 during any upcoming spring to let us know that you and your guests will be coming, so that we’ll be able to host you properly.
Second, we are producing a graduation program similar to what we would make in normal years, and will send several copies to you. Physical souvenirs can help memorialize important events, and may help you to share your accomplishment with family and friends who live far away. Watch for your copies in the mail over the summer.
Finally, what follows on this web page is a virtual ceremony that you can share as widely as you’d like. Below, you’ll find video messages from faculty, and information on our department’s Spring 2021 graduates, including the winners of our annual awards.
Best regards, and best of luck as you move into the next phase of your career!
Professor and Chair
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies