Commencement | University of Delaware | Class of 2020
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Order of Exercises


National Anthem

President’s Remarks

Dennis N. Assanis
President of the University of Delaware

Presentation of the Honorary Degrees

John R. Cochran
Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Patricia DeLeon, honorary doctor of science degree. DeLeon is Trustees Distinguished Professor Emerita of Biological Sciences at UD and a past recipient of the University’s Francis Alison Award in recognition of her scholarship and teaching. Her degree will be presented at the Class of 2021 Commencement for the College of Arts and Sciences at 9 a.m., Friday, May 28. Read More

John L. Anderson, honorary doctor of science degree. Anderson, who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at UD, is president of the National Academy of Engineering, a private, nonprofit institution that promotes the engineering profession and marshals engineering insight and expertise to provide the federal government with independent advice on matters of engineering and technology. His award will be presented at the Class of 2021 Commencement for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment and the College of Engineering at 7 p.m., Friday, May 28. Read More

A. Gilchrist Sparks, honorary doctor of laws degree. An accomplished corporate attorney, Sparks served on UD’s Board of Trustees for 16 years, including six years as chairman. He was named honorary counselor to the board when he stepped down in 2019. His degree will be presented at the Class of 2021 Commencement for the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Health Sciences at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 29. Read More

Ty Jones, honorary doctor of humane letters degree. An award-winning producing artistic director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem, Jones is a UD alumnus, earning both his bachelor’s degree in communication and his master of fine arts at the University. His degree will be presented at the Class of 2020 Commencement at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, May 30, where he will be the featured speaker. Read More

Dan Rich, honorary doctor of laws degree. Rich is University Professor of Public Policy and director of the Community Engagement Initiative at UD and has been a vital part of the campus community for 50 years, serving as both dean and provost during that time. His degree will be presented at the Class of 2020 Commencement at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, May 30. Read More

Commencement Speaker's Address

Ty Jones, Class of 1992 and 1995
Award-winning producing artistic director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem

Ty Jones, award-winning producing artistic director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem and a UD alumnus, is the featured speaker at this year’s Class of 2020 Commencement.

Jones earned two degrees at UD: his bachelor’s degree in communication in 1992 and a master of fine arts degree in theatre in 1995.

An award-winning actor, he is a veteran of five Broadway shows and won an OBIE award for outstanding performance in the acclaimed off-Broadway production of The Blacks. His acting credits also include numerous film roles, as well as appearances on network and cable television.

Since 2009, he has served as the producing artistic director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem, a professional theatre company dedicated to reimagining the classics and developing new work. Under Jones’ leadership, the company has developed a template whose core of financial discipline, precision marketing and exceptional programming has resulted in both growth and stability.

Jones initiated Uptown Meets Downtown, a program of strategic partnerships with downtown theatres designed to share production costs and build artistic bridges between communities. He also led the inaugural Uptown Shakespeare in the Park, bringing free, outdoor, professional theatre to Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park for an extended run.

Conferring of Degrees

Singing of the Alma Mater

Hail to thee proud Delaware,
In loyalty we stand.
We give thee thanks
for glorious days
Beneath thy guiding hand.
Full often will we praise thy name,
Thy colors proudly bear;
We lift our voices now to sing
All hail to Delaware.


UDAA Warner & Taylor Award Winners

The 2020 recipients of the Emalea Pusey Warner and Alexander J. Taylor Sr. Outstanding Senior Awards, honoring two of the most high-achieving seniors in the Class of 2020 were: Bianca Mers and Arnav N. Prasad.

The Warner and Taylor Awards annually celebrate an outstanding woman and man, respectively, of the senior class. Recipients demonstrate leadership, academic success and community service. Students must also have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or better at the end of the first semester of his or her senior year.

High Index Senior

Liam Vita earned the highest grade-point index for the Class of 2020. Vita, an Honors student and a double major, earned degrees in both environmental and resource economics and natural resource management, within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He also graduated with a minor in public health from the College of Health Sciences.

The High Index Senior award recognizes the graduating senior who has achieved the highest grade-point index, earned in full-time study toward a degree, which combines GPA with the highest number of earned hours taken in residence at UD. To be eligible for this award, students must earn at least 90 credits. Blue Hens earning a single degree must complete their program in four years, and students pursuing multiple, simultaneous degrees must complete their studies in five years or less.

UD Traditions & Commencement Traditions

UD’s History

The University of Delaware traces its roots to a school founded by the distinguished Colonial scholar, The Reverend Dr. Francis Alison, in 1743, in New London, Pennsylvania. By 1765 the school had been moved to Newark where, in 1769, it received a charter as the Academy of Newark from Thomas and Richard Penn. Read More »

On February 5, 1833, the General Assembly of the State of Delaware passed an act establishing a perpetual charter for a college at Newark. New Ark College opened as a degree-granting institution in 1834 and the Academy was merged with it. The institution was renamed Delaware College in 1843, and in 1921 an act of the Delaware General Assembly created the University of Delaware with two colleges—Delaware College and the Women’s College.

The first Commencement was held on September 23, 1836, for five young men. Graduating classes remained small for several years and on occasion numbered only one or two students. No commencements were held in 1837 and 1850 because there were no students prepared to graduate. On four occasions, 1847, ’51, ’53, and ’71, only master’s degrees were awarded. The College was closed in 1859 for financial reasons and the impending Civil War.

The Board of Trustees continued to meet and by means of the Morrill Land-Grant Act the College reopened in 1870, graduating its first new class in 1873. In the years before 1873 there were 16 years in which no degrees were awarded. Since that time, however, annual commencements have continued uninterrupted. Show Less

Academic regalia

The use of the academic costume, which seems to have originated in the English universities of Oxford and Cambridge, has been traditional in university life since the medieval times. In England and other European countries academic attire generally is distinctive with each university so that very colorful ensembles of diverse styles are commonly used abroad. Read More »

Unlike European academic apparel, the academic costume of American universities follows a regular pattern, the styles and colors having been established by an intercollegiate agreement in 1895. Cap, hood, and gown are prescribed in style. Color variations indicate differences in the field of knowledge presented and the conferring institutions.

The mortarboard cap is identical for holders of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. For holders of the doctorate, the cap may be made of velvet and the tassel may be gold. Candidates for the associate and bachelor’s degrees wear the tassel on the right of the cap, changing it to the left side after the degree has been conferred.

The associate and bachelor’s gowns are designed with full sleeves. The master’s gown, designed with sleeves closed at the base and slit at the elbow, appears to have half-sleeves that leave the forearm uncovered. The doctor’s gown has bell-shaped sleeves with velvet bars and is faced with velvet around the collar and down the front edges.

Hoods representing the four levels of degrees differ primarily in size. The colors of the hood lining are characteristic of the conferring college. For example, University of Delaware colors are blue and gold; University of Pennsylvania, red and blue; Columbia University, blue and white; etc. The color of the velvet border for the hood indicates the branch of knowledge represented. Show Less

The Mace and Chain of Office

The mace—the ornamental staff carried at the lead of the Commencement procession—was historically a weapon of war. Traditionally used by horsemen and warriors to unseat battle opponents and smash heavy armor during tournaments, it was typically made entirely of metal and was crafted to include a grooved head with lethally sharp spikes. After abandoning its barbaric roots for more genteel pursuits in the Middle Ages, the mace became associated with high-level state occasions and eventually gained prominence as a modern-day symbol of power, authority and dignity, according to a booklet published by the University Archives. Read More »

The University acquired its mace in 1971 during a resurgence of interest in this tradition on the part of American universities. In keeping with its current symbolism, the University’s mace, which has the elaborate features of an early 14th-century model, is carried before the President and members of the platform party by the University Marshal in academic processions. The wearing of the chain in conjunction with the mace indicates that the President temporarily embodies “the power, authority, autonomy, immunity, and sovereignty” vested in the institution he represents.

The mace of the University of Delaware is 42 inches long and weighs nine and one-half pounds. The head of the mace is 10 inches in diameter and displays eight diamond-shaped, enamel-and-gold-plated silver panels that alternate the Blue Hen and the American holly—Delaware’s state bird and state tree, respectively.

The chain of office of the University of Delaware is 48 inches long and displays alternating panels of Blue Hens and holly clusters on a diamondshaped background. From the chain hangs a medallion bearing the seal of the University surrounded by holly leaves and berries. The recurring diamond theme used in the mace and chain salutes Delaware as “The Diamond State,” a designation that refers to Delaware’s worth in relation to its size.

As handcrafted works of art, the mace and chain of office are part of the University’s Permanent Art Collection. Show Less

Degree Candidates by College

  • * Cum Laude candidate
  • † Magna Cum Laude candidate
  • ‡ Summa Cum Laude candidate
  • § Degree with Distinction candidate
  • ✩ U.S. Military – Active Duty, Reserve or Veteran

The University of Delaware has photographers and/or videographers at today’s Commencement. By attending this event, you grant the University of Delaware permission to publish or display photographic or video images of you. Images may be used in any promotional material, publications or other applications.

Please contact the University of Delaware Office of Communications & Marketing at if you have concerns with your image being used.

The flags included in today’s ceremony celebrate the over 50 American states and territories as well as over 100 foreign countries that are represented among the University of Delaware’s student body. The flags also pay tribute to the leadership role that University benefactor Pierre S. du Pont played in establishing the University’s Junior Year Abroad Program, the first program of its kind in the world.