Proms and weddings are among the springtime rites of passage that are taking a virtual twist due to the coronavirus and Pratt Institute’s 2020 commencement will be another addition to the many online-only celebrations.
This year’s 1,300 graduating students will come together remotely on May 30 on the school’s site. The event will feature a few virtual elements including a commencement address from Neil Gaiman, who will also be honored. The graphic novelist and renowned author of such books as “The Sandman,” “Stardust,” “Coraline” and “American Gods” has legions of readers around the world.
Students will also hear from Pratt’s president Frances Bronet, as well as Pratt’s Distinguished Teacher for 2020-21 and undergraduate and graduate student speakers. Graduating students will be acknowledged along with their degrees and there will be an optional component to engage students via social media.
The online presentation will also include a salute to the 50th anniversary of Pratt’s class of 1970. That group was the only graduating class that did not have a commencement ceremony. Their commencement was canceled in the aftermath of the shootings at Kent State University.
Pratt will also host an online complement to Pratt Shows, its annual celebration of student work. The school has not ruled out the prospect of having future in-person exhibitions for the class of 2020. The site will serve as a voluntary showcase and archive for the students’ work.
While students may be disappointed to not be picking up their diplomas at Radio City Music Hall as planned, their parents may be feeling a more intangible sense of loss. There, Gaiman, a father of four, may have some sage advice. As his nearly 600,000 Instagram followers know by Gaiman’s own account, he, “Makes things up. Writes things down. Entertains a small son.”
The author told WWD in 2009, “One of the great joys of being a parent, and the greatest tragedies, is that if you do your job properly, your children grow up and go away. But they have to be away to know who they really are.”