Rockhurst University Graduation: 2020 Commencement will be VIRTUAL

100th Commencement Ceremony Rockhurst University

VIRTUAL COMMENCEMENT SPRING 2020:  The Rockhurst University Spring 2020 Commencement Ceremony will be VIRTUAL in an effort to maintain everyone's safety and well-being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rockhurst University/Research College of Nursing Spring 2020 Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Facebook Watch Party Saturday, September 19, 2020 at 1:00 pm CDT: We will host a Facebook Watch Party on Saturday, September 19, 2020, at 1:00 pm (Central Daylight Time).  Tune in to the Rockhurst University Facebook page ( to watch the 40-minute Ceremony video with your friends and family in real-time at the link below and share respectful, congratulatory well-wishes, and responses live with your classmates, family, and friends!

Unable to attend the Watch Party on Saturday 9/19/20? No worries! Click here to visit the RU/RCN Spring 2020 Virtual Commencement Website 24/7 between now and September 18, 2021!

Your Virtual Commencement Website includes:

  • Five graduation-related videos available for you to watch any time night or day:
    • #1: 100th Commencement Ceremony (our traditional ceremony with featured speakers, conferral of degrees, invocation and benediction)
    • #2: Honors and Awards (features Senior Medal Winners and Faculty Accomplishments)
    • #3: Message to Graduates from Father Curran (originally broadcast 5/16/2020)
    • #4: Research College of Nursing Pinning Ceremony (originally presented 5/19/2020)
    • #5: Congratulatory Messages from RU Alumni (originally broadcast 5/15/2020)
  • Graduation-related social media portal to quickly connect to Twitter (#RUKC2020) and Instagram. 
  • Individual Graduate Slides appearing in alphabetical order by last name.  Slides can also be sorted by Degree or Major to find specific groups of Graduates faster.  Each Graduate Slide features name, degree and major, honors, an audio recording of the graduate's name read aloud when you open the slide, and may feature a photo and/or personal message uploaded by the graduate.  Graduate Slides can be downloaded and shared on social media.
  • Digital Commencement Program (Coming Soon!)
  • Link to the Spring 2020 Festival of Student Achievement Online



Click here for Rockhurst University Pandemic-related updates and information.



Rockhurst University Provost Announces Conversion of 2020 Commencement Ceremony to Virtual Event

The following message was delivered to the Rockhurst University Graduating Class on July 30, 2020 ...

Although it has been more than two months since you graduated from Rockhurst University, it may not yet feel real to you because we haven’t had the opportunity to celebrate your accomplishment with a public commencement ceremony. We now have a clearer picture of what is possible given our current circumstances in the state and region, and I have some important updates for you.

In April, we sent a survey asking about your preferences as we looked for ways to honor you during the uncertainties created by the pandemic. Your overwhelming preference was for a postponed live ceremony and we rescheduled commencement activities for Sept. 18-19 (contingent upon favorable conditions), then set to work researching our options. After exploring a number of venues and scenarios we have concluded, unfortunately, that hosting a live ceremony this year simply is not safe nor logistically feasible with current social distancing restrictions required by the city. We share your disappointment becYou may be wondering, “What is a virtual commencement and what will it look like?” We are partnering with a company called MarchingOrder to help produce our virtual commencement event. The virtual ceremony will include a website containing video recordings of components of our usual commencement ceremony (e.g., messages from  President Curran and Provost Dunham, our featured student speakers and vocalists, invocation and benediction, conferral of degrees, and a special Baccalaureate message), a link to the commencement program, and a slide featuring each graduate. Click here to explore a similar virtual commencement event hosted by St. Joseph’s University.

Our virtual commencement will be posted in a live social media ‘watch party’ event at 1 p.m. Saturday, September 19, 2020. You will receive the Rockhurst University virtual commencement link in advance to share with family and friends to celebrate your success live via social media interaction on the day, and the link will remain available for public access through August 2021. We will also post the link on the Rockhurst University graduation website (

  • Your individual slide will feature your name (read aloud just as it would be in a live ceremony), your degree and discipline, and your honors.  You will also have the opportunity to submit a photo and a personal message/quote.
  • You will receive two emails from MarchingOrder via the email account; one will ask you to login to their website to record the pronunciation of your name; the other will ask you to login to another Marching Order web page to upload your photograph and personal message.  Please contact Beci Edmundson ( if you have difficulties or questions regarding MarchingOrder website access.
  • Your Rockhurst University Diploma Cover will be mailed to your diploma mailing address in late August or early September; please reply to this email with your preferred shipping address if you have moved since April 2020 or are planning to move prior to September 19, 2020.

Options We Considered

  • Before making our final decision, we conducted a small focus group with graduates to share the options we explored and to seek further feedback. Although everyone would have preferred a live ceremony, all participants understood the need to adjust our plans and advised us to arrive at and share a decision as quickly as possible.  The group also asked us to provide you with the details as to how we arrived at our final decision, which I will do below.
  • Our biggest obstacle was locating a venue that could safely accommodate our class of 725 graduates and the family and friends who wished to celebrate your success, with the lowest risk of exposure to the virus possible. We learned that Municipal Auditorium (our regular venue) could no longer host our ceremony as usual due to the large size of our graduating class, and we immediately began researching local outdoor venues (Children’s Mercy Park, WWI Museum lawn, Starlight Theatre, and various sport fields).  We were encouraged to learn of local high schools hosting their graduation events at many of these outdoor venues, but as we investigated the logistics of each facility we were disappointed to learn that we were double the size of the local high school classes. Even if a venue had the space to accommodate our graduating class, we would have been forced to limit guest attendance to less than one guest per student and our faculty and staff would not be able to attend.  
  • We considered breaking up this year’s commencement into multiple ceremonies, but that option still posed the overarching threat of inviting guests from various parts of the country to travel to Kansas City, which would result in increased risk of virus exposure and spread at a time when cases are increasing daily in Missouri and throughout the United States.
  • Ultimately, we concluded that the health and safety of you and the ones you love is our biggest concern, and to ask you to gather from all over the nation at this time was not worth the risk to your wellbeing and was antithetical to the measures we are taking to safely start our fall semester face to face.

Hopefully you see we did not make this decision lightly. We opened the discussion to many voices and gave the conversation the time it needed. What we don’t want to get lost in this message is our deep admiration for your accomplishment and your contributions to our University community during your entire time here. Because your final months with us concluded at such a dramatic moment in our history, you will always hold a special place in our hearts.

While this commencement ceremony will be virtual, we have not given up on the idea of gathering together to celebrate the class of 2020 with a party that befits the occasion and are committed to doing so. We are already discussing the possibilities for an event that would take place in 2021 if conditions allow. Until then, we wish you all the best wherever your dreams are leading you as the newest members of our alumni network.

Douglas N. Dunham, Ph.D.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs


Questions? Email us at


Rockhurst College was founded in Kansas City in 1910 with a charter from the state of Missouri empowering Rockhurst College to grant degrees. The construction of Sedgwick Hall in 1914 allowed the opening of high school classes in 1914; college classes began in 1917. The first class to graduate from Rockhurst College was in 1921. Just as the Jesuit order grew from the calling of one man into a worldwide force, so Rockhurst University has grown from the dream of a small, hardy crew of Jesuits into an institution with national reach.