DU doubles up on Commencement ceremonies for the Classes of 2020 and 2021

For 125 years, precedent has held that the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law honor one graduating class at its Commencement ceremony. This year, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Carlos Samour Jr. (JD ’90) overturned it. 

“There is no rule against having two celebrations,” Samour, the law school’s keynote speaker, told the crowd in Magness Arena via video. “This is certainly one of those events that’s worthy of multiple celebrations.” 

The May 22 law school ceremonies kicked off a monthlong jubilee on the DU campus, as Chancellor Jeremy Haefner and Provost Mary Clark conferred degrees upon two classes of graduates — formally to the Class of 2021 and ceremonially to the Class of 2020, which had its festivities delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Of the more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students from last year’s class, about 500 returned to campus in early June to celebrate during four ceremonies. The law school saw 322 students return. The added ceremonies made it possible for graduates not only to social distance on the floor of Magness Arena, but also to invite up to five guests.   

“You have already succeeded under circumstances not experienced on this planet in more than 100 years,” keynote speaker Michael Salem, president and CEO of National Jewish Health, told graduates from both classes in a pre-recorded message. “You have persevered and adapted to complete your studies and earn your diplomas during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Take pride in your success, store them in your retrievable memory banks and access them as you encounter all manner of life experiences.” 

The Class of 2021 turned out in robust numbers to recognize the years of hard work and rigorous study associated with a DU degree. In all, 1,297 undergraduates, 2,128 graduate students and 296 law students crossed the stage and collected their diplomas. 

In his remarks to Denver Law graduates, Samour offered a reminder that applies to all of DU’s new alumni: “Remember: Tough times don’t last; tough people do. All of you who are graduating today are tough, determined, resilient and strong-minded people. You wouldn’t have made it here if you weren’t. So, please don’t be discouraged by the difficult times we’re enduring. Instead, rise to the challenge, just as you did to get here. Step up and lead, just as you did to get here. And, just as you did to get here, be creative, think outside the box, be resourceful and show the world what you’re made of as you find ways to succeed in times of great adversity.” 

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