W&L Confers Degrees on the Class of 2020 The class will return to campus for its traditional in-person Commencement ceremony next spring.
“As graduates of Washington and Lee, you are prepared for lifelong learning, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship. You are ready for the world, and the world needs your contributions.”
~ President Will Dudley
Washington and Lee University conferred degrees on 446 students during an online ceremony on Thursday, May 28, the original date scheduled for its 233rd undergraduate Commencement. The in-person, traditional Commencement exercises for W&L’s undergraduate Class of 2020 are scheduled for Sunday, May 23, 2021.
Opting to deliver his traditional commencement speech at the in-person event next spring, President William C. Dudley told students that today’s event was not a substitute for Commencement. “It is something different, but no less important,” he said. “Today we will confer upon you degrees from Washington and Lee University. Those degrees, which you have earned by virtue of your diligence and learning, signify that you have met the academic standards established by our faculty and are well prepared for your next endeavors. I congratulate you on this notable achievement.
“As soon-to-be graduates of a liberal arts college, you are made for this moment,” he told the Class of 2020. “A liberal arts education expands our horizons, develops our capacities, deepens our humanity and increases our flexibility. That flexibility is being put the test as never before. But your education has given you the habits of mind that will allow you to respond successfully to the unforeseen challenges you will encounter in the days and years ahead. As graduates of Washington and Lee, you are prepared for lifelong learning, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship. You are ready for the world, and the world needs your contributions.”
Dudley recognized this year’s recipients of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, Joëlle Simeu, of Media, Pennsylvania, and Julio Hidalgo Lopez, of Saint Joseph, Missouri. The two were selected by the faculty as individuals who best demonstrate high ideals of living, spiritual qualities and generous service to others. The two will speak at the on-campus celebration next spring.
Matthew O’Neal Withers of Collinsville, Virginia, was named valedictorian. Withers graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in physics. He is a Johnson Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Eta Sigma honor societies.
During the degree conferral ceremony, W&L recognized 28 retiring members of the faculty and staff, who represent a total of nearly 850 years of service.
Two graduating seniors have been awarded Fulbright grants for postgraduate international work. Caroline Rivers, a Spanish and politics double major from Spartanburg, South Carolina, received a Fulbright-García Robles English Teaching Assistantship to Mexico. Colin Berger, a biology and English double major from Richmond, Virginia, was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain.
Five other seniors also received scholarships for postgraduate work. Christopher McCrackin, an English and classics double major from Homer, Georgia, received both a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and a Rotary District 7570 Skelton/Jones Scholarship to Oxford University. Andre Zeromski, an economics major from San Marcos, California, received The Kemper Scholarship. Abigail Keller, a German and economics double major from Netcong, New Jersey, and Jared Nickodem, a European history and global politics double major from Jackson, Wisconsin, were awarded Austrian U.S. Teaching Assistantships. Brian Peccie, an economics and math double major from Norfolk, Virginia, was named Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) Leader of the Year in athletics.