Ben Platt to Sing Original Tom Kitt Song at Columbia Virtual Commencement

Following the University ceremony, former Vice President Joe Biden will address the Law School and award-winning actor John Turturro will speak to School of the Arts graduates.

May 19, 2020

On Wednesday, May 20, Columbia University will hold the Commencement ceremony for its 266th academic year. This year’s celebration, which will begin with a pre-show video at 10:50 am ET, followed by the conferring of degrees at 11 am ET, will be a virtual event for these unprecedented times.

In addition to a rendition of "Stand, Columbia!" by the Clefhangers, the ceremony will include a speech by President Lee C. Bollinger and a conferral of degrees presented by Interim Provost Ira Katznelson and featuring brief remarks from the deans of 16 schools as well as the presidents of Barnard and Teachers College.

After a congratulations video from the Board of Trustees, the program will close with a surprise gift to the Class of 2020 from the Columbia Alumni Association: an original song written by Columbia alumnus and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt and performed by Ben Platt, who won a Tony for originating the title role in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway. 

Some of the University's schools have held their individual ceremonies during Commencement Week, which started on May 16. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker addressed the graduates of the School of Professional Studies and Ford Foundation President Darren Walker spoke to the School of International and Public Affairs graduates the next day. Former Vice President Joe Biden will address the Law School and award-winning actor John Turturro will speak to School of the Arts graduates after the University Commencement. 

Although this year’s graduation ceremony is unlike any other, at least one important tradition remains. On the night of Commencement, New York City’s iconic Empire State Building will be lit blue in honor of this year’s graduates.