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St. John's College holds one of Maryland's first coronavirus commencements

The Capital Gazette

May 11, 2020


St. John’s College held an online commencement Sunday from inside McDowell Hall in Annapolis, one of the first colleges in Maryland to hold a virtual graduation for the coronavirus class of 2020. The 120 seniors and graduate students were spread across the country watching a new take on the old cap and gown tradition.

President Pano Kanelos and Dean Joseph Macfarland live-streamed their speeches to the class and then turned to tutor Margaret Kirby, whose commencement address speech was prerecorded and played in Youtube.

After Kirby’s address, Macfarland and Associate Dean Emily Langston read out the names of students receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees — also recorded and played on Youtube.

“I really miss not having the students here, when we do commencement we are all gathered in this hall,” Macfarland said. “When I present the awards to the students, it is a real connection. So this was hard because I have each one of them in mind and I am thinking about them.

"Wish it could have been in person, but it makes me proud of this senior class and all that they have accomplished.”

Many colleges and high schools will follow the example set Sunday by the small liberal arts college, which has been offering an education based on the study of great works of Western civilization since 1937. The college was founded in 1696.