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The New York Philharmonic performs at the opening gala for the McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University. The New York Philharmonic dedicated its performance of "Loyal and True" to OSU's class of 2020. Photo: Chris Lee / courtesy of the New York Philharmonic

OSU celebrates class of 2020

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Gov. Stitt addresses graduates; New York Philharmonic dedicates OSU alma mater performance

COVID-19 forced Oklahoma State University to postpone spring graduation ceremonies to December, but that didn’t prevent the university from celebrating the class of 2020. In a celebration hosted Friday evening via OStateTV, OSU acknowledged the extraordinary achievement of its degree candidates in an extraordinary time.

The video celebration featured hundreds of unique photos and videos submitted from among more than 4,400 degree candidates, a pre-recorded OSU Department of Music rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance” and a special tribute to the class of 2020 from the New York Philharmonic — a recorded performance of OSU’s “Proud and Immortal” from the opening performance at The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts at Oklahoma State University in the fall.

OSU President Burns Hargis welcomed graduates and their families to the virtual celebration, congratulating them on their accomplishment and praising their perseverance in finishing strong. He also praised faculty and staff members for making the swift transition to online classes in the interest of safety and families and parents for providing love and support to students.

“We’ve come together to celebrate the class of 2020,” Hargis said. “Each May, we honor our degree candidates as they walk across the stage at Gallagher-Iba Arena. And although we had to postpone our in-person commencement, that does not take away from the magnitude of your achievement. In fact, in my opinion, it magnifies it.

“While the pandemic seemed to stop our world in mid-March, your desire to impact the world did not. During your time at OSU, we challenged you to become leaders. When faced with a challenge like no other, you didn’t back down. You stepped up and finished the job at hand. The class of 2020 will be remembered as one that was split apart by distance but came together for a cause. You sacrificed for the health and well-being of others. You aren’t just graduates — you’re leaders.”

Hargis reminded graduates that the video celebration was an effort to recognize the class of 2020 but wouldn’t be a replacement for their commencement ceremony. OSU’s spring and summer graduates are invited to participate in the official class of 2020 commencement ceremonies Dec. 11-12 in Stillwater and Dec. 13 in Tulsa.

“We hope to see you then,” Hargis said. “I look forward to shaking your hand as you cross the stage.”

Hargis’ message was followed by messages of congratulations from OSU Student Government Association President Kaitlyn Kirksey and OSU alumnus Gov. Kevin Stitt.

“As an OSU grad myself, I know you’re continuing on to your next adventure with a quality education, priceless memories and friendships that will last a lifetime,” Stitt said. “Each of you came from across the state, the nation and the world to begin this journey here in Stillwater. And while we cannot join together [at this time] to celebrate this important milestone, remember that no matter the distance or amount of time, your years spent at OSU will always unite you together.”

Citing one of his oft-repeated quotes from the late T. Boone Pickens, Stitt encouraged graduates to carry the lessons they learned at OSU with them as they take the next steps on their journey.

“As the great T. Boone Pickens said, ‘What you dream about, what you think about and what you work for is going to happen. This quote rings true for the class of 2020,” he said. “It takes persistence, hard work and a goal-oriented mindset to get where you are today. And now, more than ever, we need you, our future scientists, artists, educators, entrepreneurs and leaders, to continue to rise up to the challenge before you.” 

OSU College of Veterinary Medicine students officially celebrated graduation Friday afternoon so they could take the Veterinarian’s Oath and begin practicing. They also are invited to take part in full ceremonies in December.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mack Burke | Editorial Coordinator | 405.744.5540 |

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