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KCAD Announces Virtual Commencement Ceremony, Online Annual Student Exhibitions

Posted April 30, 2020 in Public

Like many colleges and universities across the nation, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) has had to make difficult decisions to protect the health and safety of its campus community and guests in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Finding creative ways to celebrate the college’s 2020 graduating class in light of restrictions on in-person gatherings, however, was not one of them. Following Governor Whitmer’s initial Executive Order, KCAD quickly mobilized faculty, staff, and students in a collaborative effort to transition its 2020 Commencement ceremony and Annual Student Exhibitions to an online format.

“This is not the spring any of us had in mind, but we felt it absolutely vital to do everything in our power to celebrate the KCAD Class of 2020, and all they’ve worked so hard to achieve, as best as possible under the current circumstances,” said KCAD Interim President Tara McCrackin. “We hope to hold physical events when it is safe to do so, but for now we’re thrilled to be able to shine a light on these amazing students for the whole world to see, and we’re so proud of everyone in our community for rallying together and going above and beyond to make this possible.”

Commencement 2020

The 2020 Commencement ceremony will take the form of a preproduced video in which content from across the KCAD community has converged to recreate the college’s annual commencement traditions, including a Valedictorian Address, Graduate Address, Faculty Farewell Address, the ceremonial Conferral of Degrees, and most importantly, individual recognition of each graduate, complete with their headshot, a list of academic honors, and an image of work they’ve chosen to represent their creative practice.

The ceremony will be streamed live on the KCAD Facebook page on Saturday, May 9 at 10am, enabling graduates and their loved ones to tune in from anywhere in the world and connect with one another by posting celebratory images and notes of congratulations.

Additionally, a “Watch Box” has been mailed to the house where each graduate is currently sheltering-in-place, filled with a congratulatory yard sign, KCAD Alumni apparel, and snacks to further lend a celebratory air to the ceremony.

KCAD’s Annual Student Exhibitions, which normally transform campus into a massive gallery space, will also be presented online and promoted broadly to a global audience on social media. Starting at 4pm on Tuesday, May 5, the following exhibitions will be available to view at kcad2020.org:

·       Master’s Thesis Exhibition – Featuring the fully-developed work of those students who have completed their graduate studies at KCAD and offering a window into their creative process.

·       Excellence Awards Exhibition  Showcasing KCAD’s 2020 Excellence Award winners, those graduating undergraduate students who exhibit a rare level of mastery and accomplishment in their chosen field.

·       Undergraduate Senior Exhibition Converging creative work from each graduating undergraduate student into a powerful reflection of the breadth and depth of their talent and accomplishments.

Collage of artwork

On Friday, May 8, KCAD’s annual Excellence Awards ceremony—at which awardees are honored in the presence of friends and family with a spoken tribute from their faculty and a slideshow presentation of their creative work—will also take place online, but will continue the tradition of being a more intimate celebration, limited to a private audience.

For the Commencement ceremony and the online exhibitions, KCAD invites anyone and everyone to join in the celebration, especially those interested in learning more about what a KCAD education has to offer aspiring creative professionals.

“That our community has stood united in the face of these immense challenges to support our students’ creative, professional, and personal growth is no surprise, because it’s in our DNA,” said McCrackin. “A KCAD degree matters, not because it comes from a big school in a big city, but because its driven by a personalized approach to understanding who our students are, what drives them to create, and the mark they want to make on the world. Only then can we empower them to be the creative leaders and problem solvers the future so desperately needs.”