UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang announced late Friday that Oprah Winfrey will be giving the keynote graduation address for the university’s online commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021.
The chancellor issued a memo the graduating students and members of the UCSB community in making the announcement, and said that he and his wife, Dilling, spoke with Ms. Winfrey and invited her to deliver “a message of inspiration” in honor of the graduating class. The Montecito resident “graciously accepted,” Chancellor Yang said.
“Internationally renowned not only for her great accomplishments, but also for her wisdom, her generosity of spirit, and her gift of inspiration, Ms. Winfrey will address our graduates on Saturday, June 12, 2021, to begin a day of multiple virtual or small in-person celebrations arranged by our schools, academic divisions, and departments, as allowed by public health orders,” he said. Directions on how to sign up for personalized graduation slides will be provided directly to eligible students.
The chancellor invited all of UCSB’s graduating students to participate in-person in its 2021 Grad Walk, which will take place during the week of June 7. Chancellor Yang said the event will offer “a semblance of the pomp and circumstance” of its typical ceremony, and added that the decision to hold an in-person event was made following consultation with UCSB students, academic leaders and campus medical experts.
“Our Grad Walk will allow our graduating students to take part in a graduation processional that includes having your names announced as you cross a stage, and photographs with our campus lagoon as the backdrop,” he said. “The event will be live-streamed so parents, guardians, families, and friends can share in the celebration, virtually. We warmly invite our Class of 2020 graduates, who did not have an in-person experience last year, to join in our Grad Walk as well.”
To open the memo, Chancellor Yang reflected on the meaningful opportunity for UCSB to recognize the achievements and success of its graduating students.
“We know how special this moment is for you, and also for your parents, your guardians, and your families, as well as our faculty and staff — for all of us.”
He added, “Personally congratulating and shaking the hand of each graduate who crosses the stage is among my greatest joys.”
Current health orders in Santa Barbara County restriction large public gatherings has caused the traditional ceremonies to go virtual, or to be done at limited capacities.
“We had hoped the improved situation in Santa Barbara County would make it possible for us to come together as a campus community this June, perhaps even joined by our friends and families,” Chancellor Yang said. “Though that is not the case, it does not diminish our pride in the accomplishments of our graduates and our excitement for the life adventures that await you. We look forward to future opportunities to welcome you back to campus as the newest members of our alumni community.
“The incredible resilience, flexibility, and perseverance you have demonstrated during these unprecedented times are an inspiration to all of us who have shared your journey at UC Santa Barbara. These inner resources will serve you well as you embark on life’s next chapter. Dilling and I are in awe of your unwavering dedication, your passion, and your extraordinary achievements. You are forever part of our UC Santa Barbara family.”