To the Campus Community:
Yesterday, we made a decision about this year’s commencement ceremonies without first consulting our students and fully understanding their preferences for this important rite of passage. In these unprecedented times, we are guided by our goal of protecting the safety of our Bruin community. But we should have known the impact this decision would make, especially during this tense time, and we should have listened first. For this, I apologize.
We have heard the important voices of our students and their families, and based on those, we will step back and make a decision on commencement in consultation with students and student leaders. I understand that for so many of our students and their families and friends, our commencement ceremonies celebrate not only past achievements, but also the promise of what is to come.
I deeply appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into earning a UCLA degree. It is a great accomplishment fully deserving of a ceremony that acknowledges students’ years of commitment to reaching that milestone. Our ceremonies are as diverse as our student body. Whether it is our campus, departmental or student-initiated commencement, our ceremonies are without question the most wonderful and moving events that we have on our campus, not only because they honor our students, but also because they give family and friends who supported them a proud moment they, too, will carry for the rest of their lives.
The decisions we have had to make in the past few weeks, all designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our community, are ones that few of us ever anticipated in our lifetimes. We are all working hard to adapt to rapidly evolving circumstances and find ways to prioritize the health of our community. In this environment, despite our best efforts, sometimes we move too quickly. I regret that we did that here and did not properly include students in the decision-making process.
We will be connecting with our student leadership, including the Undergraduate Students Association Council and Graduate Students Association, so that we can make these decisions together.
We are committed to giving all of our students the commencement they deserve. We should have known the tremendous impact that this decision would have on our students and their loved ones and friends. We will do better to include these important voices going forward.
Gene D. Block