Marking the Moment: What to expect from Duke’s virtual celebration of the Class of 2020

The Marking the Moment celebration will go live May 10.
The Marking the Moment celebration will go live May 10.

Commencement has been postponed, but seniors will be able to celebrate online while they wait for the real deal. 

Marking the Moment, a virtual platform designed to celebrate the Class of 2020’s graduation, will go live May 10. It will feature a collection of videos and a videoconferencing tool for live events, according to Lawrence Kluttz, director of communications for the Office of the President.

“We’re trying to design content that captures that spirit of celebration that’s so important to spring of your final year at Duke,” Kluttz said.

The prerecorded videos will include advice and well wishes from notable alumni, performances, art content and more, all intended to create such a celebratory mood. 

In an April 27 email to the Duke community, the Marking the Moment team asked for submissions of short video messages celebrating the Class of 2020. The email included prompts for the videos, including “What is your advice for this year’s graduates?” and “What should they be looking forward to?” 

The videos will be sortable by topic and group, Kluttz said, and there will be landing pages for different schools. In addition to individuals, programs and departments have submitted videos.

The live platform will be “essentially like a Zoom room,” Kluttz said. Among other things, it will allow graduates to interact with people who were important to their Duke experience and participate in live events like musical performances.

The team is planning for there to be several University-wide events the day Marking the Moment goes live, spaced out to allow graduates in different time zones to participate. After the first day, departments and programs will be able to host events.

Planned commencement speaker Ken Jeong, Trinity ‘90, will participate, Kluttz wrote in an email, though the form his participation will take is “a surprise.”

A variety of University groups came together to plan Marking the Moment, according to Klutz, including the Office of the President, the Office of University Communications, the Office of Special Events and University Ceremonies, Student Affairs, the Alumni Association, individual schools and departments, and graduate and undergraduate students. The Marking the Moment team is made up of members from the different offices and programs. 

“We’re trying to encourage participation from everyone in the university community to make this a really special experience for the 2020 graduates,” Kluttz said. 

However, Kluttz emphasized that Marking the Moment is not a replacement for commencement. When President Vincent Price announced that commencement would be delayed, he emphasized his commitment to having an in-person celebration on campus at some point. 

Below is a live schedule for May 10, included in an email to students from the Marking the Moment team. All times are in Eastern Daylight Time:

  • 10 a.m.: Marking the Moment opens with prerecorded videos from the Duke community
  • 11-11:30 a.m.: Hangout with Coach K
  • 1-1:45 p.m.: Chat with Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek; Gary Bennett, vice provost for undergraduate education; and Mary Pat McMahon, vice president and vice provost for student affairs
  • 3-3:45 p.m.: Duke Alumni Association undergraduate alumni forum
  • 4-4:45 p.m. Duke Alumni Association graduate and professional forum
  • 7:30-7:45 p.m.: Special performance by the Pitchforks and Out of the Blue a capella groups

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin was editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 116th volume.


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