December 9, 2020

Purdue’s winter commencements celebrate accomplishments of Class of 2020

University continuing with third set of on-demand ceremonies

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University’s on-demand winter commencements are live, complete with a guest speaker and student responders.

The commencements celebrate the accomplishments of more than 2,800 students, who hear their names called during the two ceremonies. This is the third set of commencement ceremonies that Purdue has offered on-demand due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels participated in the on-demand events.

Purdue alumnus John A. Edwardson is the guest speaker for the commencement ceremonies (speech here). Edwardson received his Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Purdue in 1971 and his Master of Business Administration degree from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago in 1972. He is the former chairman (2001-12) and chief executive officer (2001-11) of CDW Corp. Before joining CDW, he served as chairman and CEO of Burns International Services Corp., a global provider of security services. He also was president (1994-98) and chief operating officer (1995-98) of UAL Corp., the parent company of United Air Lines Inc. Edwardson is currently a director of CHUBB Limited and a recently retired board member of FedEx Corp., and Rockwell Collins.  

Edwardson served as a trustee at Purdue from 1995-2005, and currently serves as a trustee of the University of Chicago and as co-chairman of Advance Illinois, a statewide advocacy group for improving the K-12 public schools in Illinois.  

About 2,883 students are eligible for degrees. Eligible to participate in the ceremonies are 1,749 undergraduates, 1,129 graduate and five professional program students.

The Division I ceremony includes the colleges of Health and Human Sciences, Pharmacy, Science and Veterinary Medicine and Krannert School of Management and Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Division II includes the colleges of Agriculture, Education, Engineering and Liberal Arts.

John_Edwardson Purdue alumnus and December 2020 commencement speaker John A. Edwardson. (Photo provided)

The on-demand ceremonies include two student responders. Simran Bansal of San Jose, California, is the Division I student responder. She is receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in user experience design from Purdue Polytechnic Institute and a minor in communication. Bansal founded entrepreneuHER, a campus event that brings together experienced female leaders in the Midwest entrepreneurship community to empower and inspire female Purdue students. She also served as vice president of marketing and social media chair for Delta Mu Kappa, a fraternity focused on fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. Following graduation, Bansal will work as a product designer at Salesforce.

Brandon Wells, a native of Cary, North Carolina, is the Division II student responder. Wells is receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in materials engineering from the College of Engineering. He is also in the Honors College. An active member of the Purdue community, Wells has held leadership positions in the National Society of Black Engineers, the Barbara Cook Chapter of Mortar Board at Purdue University, the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation and the Purdue Jazz Band. He has also held internships at 3M, GE and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Wells was a Purdue Stamps Scholar and a two-time National Society of Black Engineers Board Member of the Year. He was also a semifinalist for a Fulbright U.S. student fellowship. Following graduation, Wells will pursue a master’s degree in materials engineering at Purdue with a focus on finding overlap between materials and food technologies in order to reduce food waste and food insecurity.

December graduates received a special “commencement in a box” that includes a diploma cover, the commencement program, any earned honors cords and medals, and some Boilermaker goodies. The box also included information on how to download the ceremony, which they can watch with their families at a time that works for them. 

Graduates also received directions to Purdue’s December 2020 Commencement webpage. The site contains information, links and videos to numerous aspects for graduates and families to celebrate the momentous journey. Items that can be accessed on the site are digital downloads of signs and banners, digital wallpapers and filters, and live social media feeds. The on-demand commencement video will be posted there and will include special messages from Purdue’s deans.

Graduates are encouraged to take photos of themselves and their families watching the ceremony or afterward and post to social media using the #PurdueWeDidIt hashtag.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer, Media contact: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (cell),, @mo_oates

Source: Christine Pass, 765-494-6163,

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Note to journalists: A high-res photo of commencement speaker John A. Edwardson is available via Google Drive.  Journalists visiting campus should follow visitor health guidelines.

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