Dear MICA Students, Parents, Faculty, Staff, and Trustees,
A pressing concern of our graduating students and their families is the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on Commencement and year-end exhibitions, namely ArtWalk for undergraduate seniors and Grad Show for graduate students. I am writing to provide an update on these important events to allow MICA families to plan, and to extend an invitation to the Class of 2020 to help shape the events and activities that will honor them and their work.
Deeply aware of their importance to the Class of 2020, MICA’s planning on Commencement and year-end exhibitions are guided by the following:
- We remain committed to protect the health, safety, and wellness of our community members.
- We are doing the utmost to not allow COVID-19 to take away the celebration of our Class of 2020. A genuine and meaningful set of related activities has become paramount to help alleviate some of the shock, grief, and sense of loss that the abrupt developments of the past month have caused our campus community — and most notably, our student body. For staff and faculty, our work in fashioning a creative celebration of the graduating class helps address the loss we also feel.
- The diverse needs and circumstances of our graduating students require a range of options that begin with this May and extend into 2021. There is a strong desire to both celebrate online this May and to physically gather and exhibit at later dates when in-person convenings are possible again.
- Ideas and input from the Class of 2020 should play an integral role in shaping the events and activities that will appropriately celebrate and honor them as well as best position them for professional success. Some key perspectives have already been gleaned through discussions with students and student leadership. MICA is committed to further involving the graduating class in rethinking the culminating elements of their MICA educational experience.
With all of this in mind, I share the following decisions and general framework for reshaping the celebrations with and for our Class of 2020:
- The traditional May 2020 in-person celebrations of Commencement, ArtWalk, and remaining Grad Exhibitions are cancelled. We will, instead, celebrate the graduation of our seniors and showcase their work through an online means – giving us all an opportunity to virtually gather, connect, rejoice, and view work. To help shape this initiative, we will be launching a website next week to engage with the Class of 2020, their families, and the broader MICA community to solicit feedback, ideas, and proposals around key elements of this online celebration.
- A Commencement Care Package will be sent to graduating students to offer physical items that Class of 2020 members have identified to be of emotional and symbolic significance. Such items include Commencement tickets, programs, honor cords, etc.
- MICA will also use the website mentioned above to solicit ideas for physical exhibitions and celebrations of student work to take place once large, in-person gatherings can happen again. We are hopeful that this can be as soon as the Fall of 2020. Some emerging possibilities include launching the 2020-2021 academic year with these exhibitions, organizing events around the MICA Weekend in October when many parents and alumni visit the campus, and holding exhibitions in different cities in a linked set of events.
- Finally, all members of the Class of 2020 and their families will be invited to join the next physical MICA Commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 17, 2021. Those who wish to partake in an in-person experience will have that option.
For our Class of 2020, the year-end celebrations are closely linked to the launch of their professional careers. MICA is fully committed to help graduating students find jobs and access professional networks. The Office of Career Development is remotely hosting employers for portfolio reviews this month in addition to doing video counseling appointments. Faculty in many cases are pivoting their end-of-year instruction towards professional preparation.
MICA’s traditional year-end events of ArtWalk, Grad Show exhibitions, and Commencement are truly special. I share in our community’s sadness over not experiencing their splendor and power as in past years. However, I know we will invent wonderful new ways to honor the Class of 2020 and provide an array of platforms over the coming year to help professionally launch our newest graduates.
Thank you for your understanding and flexibility. Most of all, thank you for your belief in the ingenuity of MICA’s creative community, and your partnership to explore innovative methods to celebrate the Class of 2020.