President struppa in robes with wife and daughters and confetti
President Struppa and family toast the Class of 2020 on Wilson Field.

New Grads Celebrate With Virtual Toast From President Struppa With physical distancing rules still in place, the Chapman Family came together online to send off the Class of 2020 with Panther pride.

From as far away as Seattle, Cleveland and Honolulu, and from as close as Villa Park, Santa Ana and Orange, on May 22 the Chapman graduates of the Class of 2020 came together online to celebrate.

From as far away as Seattle, Cleveland and Honolulu, and from as close as Villa Park, Santa Ana and Orange, on May 22 the Chapman graduates of the Class of 2020 came together online to celebrate. Though the university is still planning an in-person Commencement when it is safe to gather, the virtual celebration provided an opportunity for the Chapman Family to honor all the accomplishments of the new grads. The event was streamed on YouTube and Facebook, where more than 10,000 people have now shared in the experience.  

In a series of pre-recorded videos, President Struppa, members of the administration and fellow classmates commended the graduates, offering praise for all they have accomplished, and encouragement for what comes next. 

“Class of 2020, you are the strongest people I know, and we’re going to come out of this stronger than ever,” offered one new graduate during the opening montage.

Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the graduates showed great enthusiasm for what the future holds, and also expressed their appreciation for parents, teachers and other friends and family members who have helped them reach this milestone in their life. 

A Virtual Conferral of Degrees

“We all overcame some of the greatest struggles that we’ve ever faced to make it here today,” said Cheverton Award winner Alex Ballard ’20. “We all have faced our own struggles and obstacles yet we emerge victorious. So what’s stopping us now? The Chapman Experience is a mindset of engagement, passion and connection, and that will carry us through all of our trials and tribulations in the future.”

After congratulatory messages from the deans of each of Chapman’s schools and colleges, President Struppa appeared once again, this time robed in formal academic regalia. 


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Cheers to being done with grad school! 🐾 #masters #gradschool #chapmanu #classof2020 #chapman

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“I wish we were doing this in person, but for now this will have to do,” he said. “Class of 2020, please rise.” As graduates around the country stood, surrounded by friends and loved ones at home, President Struppa formally conferred their degrees, “with all the rights, privileges, honors and immunities thereunto pertaining.”

He added, “Class of 2020, go out in the world and make us proud. Make yourself proud. You’ll go down in history as the class who graduated despite all of the adversities. Class of 2020, congratulations and Godspeed!”

Social Media Unites the Class of 2020 in Celebration

As President Struppa was joined by his family in the empty Wilson Field to pop confetti cannons and toast the Class of 2020, graduates celebrated with special gifts mailed ahead by the university for the occasion. Many shared photos and videos of the event on social media, some in caps and gowns and others in their favorite Chapman gear. 


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Finally done with my B.S….at least in Biology😉 #ChapmanU #chapamnsciences

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The streamed event ended with messages of congratulations from prominent Chapman alumni, parents and special guests, including Ross Duffer ’07 and Matt Duffer ’07, Justin Simien ’05, Howie Mandel, Werner Herzog, Vanessa Williams and many more. Following the university-wide celebratory toast, graduates were invited to join in smaller celebrations with their schools and colleges. 


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A look back at how our 2020 graduates celebrated with us virtually.

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Staci Dumoski