Dear Members of the Class of 2020,
Each one of you has been on my mind lately. As the semester draws to a close, I know that you are busy studying for final exams and completing your remaining assignments. I imagine that you are also reflecting on this semester — it’s been unlike any other in your academic careers. Adjusting our lives to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has forced us to make hard decisions. We know that moving courses online and postponing commencement were the right things to do, but also the hardest things to do. I am sorry that we are not able to gather together this May to celebrate all of your profound accomplishments. You’ve worked extremely hard for this moment, and you deserve to walk across the stage in front of thousands of your classmates, friends and loved ones. I promise you that we will do everything possible to hold commencement at a later date, when and if it is safe for us to do so.
Graduates, as the semester draws to a close, I encourage you to remember the special moments of your experience at the University of South Carolina. Remember the meals spent with friends at Russell House; Game Days as you cheered on the Gamecocks with thousands of other fans; the perfect fall days you passed on the Horseshoe; the class in which you discovered your passion; the hours you spent studying in Thomas Cooper; the late nights you spent laughing with friends; the professors who became your mentors; the lifelong friendships you made; and how much you have grown since the first day of your freshman year.
Remember these moments, these people and these memories. This is your legacy at the University of South Carolina. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now, these will be the moments you remember. These are the moments that have shaped you into the individual you are today, and they will continue to guide you as you begin the next chapter of your life.
As you begin careers, graduate school and lives on the global stage, I ask you to remember the University’s motto, “Learning humanizes character and does not permit it to be cruel.” Lead with humanity and hold fast to the values that define you. One person can impact many others and spark hope that lasts for generations to come. As alumni of the University of South Carolina, I know that your impact will be significant.
Remember, no matter how far you go or how much time passes, the University of South Carolina will always be here to welcome you home.
Forever to Thee,