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Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 1:15pm

Two of the most anticipated events in the Mercy College spring calendar are the annual commencement ceremony celebrating student achievement, and the Trustees Scholarship Dinner, which is the largest fundraiser of the year dedicated to student scholarships. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Mercy had to pivot and re-imagine the events, typically held in-person, as virtual events to adhere to social distancing guidelines. With a dedicated team and senior leadership, Mercy was able to successfully host both events online.

On May 20, 2020, Mercy recognized 2020 graduates at a virtual commencement ceremony, the College’s 85th commencement, which included all the pomp and circumstance of an in-person ceremony. Complete with bagpipes, remarks from Honorary Degree recipients and student speakers, and the acknowledgement of awards, it culimnated in the conferring of degrees of Mercy College President Tim Hall. Graduating students participating at home wore student caps and tassels to join in the traditional moment of swinging the tassels from one side to the other. The commencement received more than 30,000 views during the first 24 hours and 61,000 views in the week following.

A few weeks later on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, the Mercy College Office of Institutional Advancement also hosted its annual Trustees’ Scholarship Event virtually, which featured distinguished award recipients and raised more than $300,000 for crucial student scholarship funds and the student emergency fund, surpassing the event’s fundraising goal of $250,000.

The College’s media and special events teams, in collaboration with numerous administrative and academic departments, worked swiftly to leverage the strategic communications and technological expertise of staff to produce a momentous commencement ceremony and Trustees’ Scholarship Event in virtual format, streaming on the website, YouTube and other social media platforms.

Ultimately, the virtual events drew unprecedented numbers of viewers and more significantly instilled participants with pride for the achievements of Mercy’s students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters. They also provided a bright light for the Mercy community providing opportunities for togetherness, solace and hope in the wake of these unprecedented times.