Thomas G. Burish, provost: Welcome

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Good morning, or good afternoon, or good evening, depending on what time zone you are watching from.  To the members of the class of 2020, to your parents and guardians and other family members and friends, to other members of the Notre Dame family—including trustees, members of the president’s leadership council, deans, faculty, staff, and students from other classes, welcome to this historic on-line conferral of degrees ceremony.

It is my privilege, as provost, to emcee this special event.  Let me say first that wherever you are, be it as nearby as South Bend or as far away as Europe or Africa or Asia, we hope and pray that you and your loves ones are, and remain, safe and healthy.  Our world has changed a great deal these past few months.  The coronavirus has taken a tremendous toll on individuals, families, and livelihoods across our nation and around the world.  And unfortunately, these impacts may continue for some time.    

Among the many sad consequences of the pandemic is that it prevents us from celebrating this momentous day with you in person. 

I hope you know that, even as we work to maintain our connection with you via Zoom, text messaging, and other means, everyone at Notre Dame has dearly missed your presence on our campus this spring.   And while we are all disappointed that your degrees are being conferred virtually rather than in person, our pride in you and what you have accomplished, and what you have overcome, and our hopes and prayers for what you will accomplish and will become in the years ahead, could not be greater.  Today you officially become graduates of the University of Notre Dame, the 175th class to do so in the 178 years in the life of the University.  In doing so, you now join a global network of Notre Dame graduates who each, in her or his own way, work to make this world a better place.  We hope to convey that pride and those prayers to you in person when we hold the official commencement ceremonies for the class of 2020, on campus, during Memorial Day weekend in 2021.  We hope you will join us then.

Normally, at this time during the Commencement ceremony, I would introduce the salutatorian of the class of 2020, Love Osunnuga, to offer the opening prayer, and after that I would introduce the valedictorian of the class of 2020, Brady Stiller, to offer the valedictory address.  Though I will not do that until next year, please join me in congratulating them on earning the salutatorian and valedictorian honors, with a virtual round of applause.

To deliver the opening prayer for this Conferral of Degrees Ceremony, it is my privilege to introduce the Chair of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, Mr. Jack Brennan, who has traveled to Notre Dame to be with us today.  Mr. Brennan.