Bellarmine celebrates first-ever online “Toast to Graduates” May 9 on Facebook

May 7, 2020

Like no other class in the history of Bellarmine University, members of the Class of 2020 have completed their collegiate careers amid the upheaval of a pandemic. The university is celebrating that accomplishment with another first: Bellarmine University’s first-ever online “Toast to Our Graduates” at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 9, on Bellarmine’s Facebook page.
The online event is not meant to replace the commencement ceremony now planned on Dec. 19, 2020, at Freedom Hall for Spring 2020, Fall 2019 and Summer 2019 graduates. Rather, this is Bellarmine’s way of commemorating May 9, the day commencement was initially scheduled. At that event, Bellarmine would have conferred 913 degrees to new graduates.
“We couldn’t let the original date go by without acknowledging and celebrating this class and all the hard work they’ve done to get to this point,” said Dr. Paul Gore, vice president for Academic Affairs & Provost. “That work has been particularly challenging this semester, as everyone moved off campus and instruction moved online. But they have approached these changes with resilience and resourcefulness, and with our dedicated faculty, they have maintained the ties of Bellarmine community even while apart.
“We recognize the challenges they have faced in completing coursework, and we’re disappointed we couldn’t be together in person. We thank them for persevering with grit and grace, and we heartily commend their momentous accomplishment.” 
The “Toast to Our Graduates” will include remarks from:
  • Dr. Paul Gore, vice president for Academic Affairs & Provost
  • Graduating senior Mary Wurtz of Crestview Hills, Ky., who majored in Foreign Languages and International Studies (FLIS) and Theology with a minor in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies
  • Dr. OJ Oleka ’15 MBA, who is president of the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities (AIKCU) and who earned a Ph.D. at Bellarmine this year in Leadership in Higher Education
  • Scheduled commencement speaker John Lansing ’09, the CEO of NPR, who will also deliver remarks on Dec. 19. 
  • Dr. Susan M. Donovan, Bellarmine's president, who will share remarks, confer graduates’ degrees and lead graduates and their families in a champagne toast. 
“The Class of 2020 has already proven that they can adapt and succeed when circumstances change. And circumstances will always change,” Donovan said. “I am entirely confident that their Bellarmine education, rooted in the great tradition of the liberal arts, will help them to be flexible; to solve problems; and to create great meaning and value in their lives, no matter where their paths may take them.”
Bellarmine has created a special graduation web page, featuring profiles of some 2020 “Great Graduates” and other commencement-related content, at

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