Commencement Ceremony Held for Class of 2020
October 22, 2020
Although government restrictions related to COVID-19 meant LIM College had to cancel its May 2020 Commencement ceremony at Lincoln Center, the College remained determined to properly honor its Class of 2020.
So, on October 22 at 7 p.m., LIM held the first-ever virtual Commencement exercises in its 81-year history, streamed to a global audience. The ceremony is now available for on-demand viewing at: https://www.limcollege.edu/commencement
Jennifer Foyle, Chief Creative Officer of AEO, Inc. and Aerie Global Brand President, gave the ceremony’s keynote address. Ms. Foyle also received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree and was presented with LIM College’s Distinguished Achievement Award.
Diane von Furstenberg, Founder and Chairwoman of DVF, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and also addressed the graduating class.
Five hundred and forty-four graduates make up the Class of 2020, hailing from eight countries and 34 U.S. states plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Two hundred and nineteen of these graduates received master’s degrees, 311 earned bachelor’s degrees, and 14 associate degrees were granted.
In her address to the graduates, LIM College President Elizabeth S. Marcuse said, “This is a particularly critical time to be entering the business of fashion. Our industry and its associated fields are in rapid flux. Fortunately, the education you received at LIM has prepared you to rise to this occasion. Your education wasn’t just about being able to memorize facts in a textbook and reel them back off on an exam. Your education was about learning to be creative, adaptive, and responsive as the world around you grows, evolves, and does the unpredictable on a daily basis.”
In her remarks, Ms. Foyle spoke about her late mother, Pauline McInnis Foyle, describing her as “A true trailblazer, who began her retail career at the very bottom – using her feet instead of a desk. She worked her way up to the boardroom, where men had most of the seats at the table.”
Ms. Foyle then recalled one of their last conversations.
“I asked her what she thought about life. Without hesitation, she said, ‘Well, Jenny, it's available.’ Those words guide me. Every time there's an obstacle, personal or professional, I think of that special night. Life is available. It's here to be seized, no matter how daunting the problem or how big the battle.”
Ms. Foyle went on to assure the graduates, “Although this global pandemic presents real roadblocks, I promise that your grit, imagination and feistiness will get you to the other side. Once there, you will be stronger and more agile than the generations that came before you.”
Ms. Von Furstenberg noted that the Class of 2020 was graduating during a time of drastic societal change. However, she remarked, “Your business life will be a journey, and like all journeys, the landscape will change… but you will always be yourself.”
Paige Secosky, from Monroeville, Pennsylvania was the undergraduate Class of 2020 Valedictorian. Paige started an immensely popular YouTube channel before entering LIM and then used her business education to grow it to 500,000+ followers. Her long-term goal is to create content that educates people on ways to make the fashion industry more sustainable and environmentally responsible.
Shannon Andrews, from Liberty Lake, Washington was the undergraduate Class of 2020 Salutatorian and the first Salutatorian in LIM’s 81-year history. Ms. Andrews manages the e-commerce site for ADAY, a sustainable apparel brand where she completed an internship while she was an LIM student.
Robert Conrad, a professor in the Fashion Merchandising department, received the Adrian G. Marcuse Award for Teaching Excellence. Named in honor of LIM College’s president from 1972-2002, this award is given to a faculty member who performs in exemplary fashion in the classroom and consistently embodies the College’s core values.
LIM College presented its Maxwell F. Marcuse Award to Leanne Gomez of the Class of 2003, Group Vice President/Divisional Merchandise Manager for dd’s Discounts, a division of Ross Stores. Named for LIM’s founder, the Maxwell F. Marcuse Award is the College’s highest alumni honor.
Heather Bergstein, Class of 1998, Senior E-Commerce Partner Manager for Amazon Advertising was this year’s Shining Star Alumni Award recipient, and Delisha Fields, Class of 2011, Experiential Event Manager at Live Nation, received the Rising Star Alumni Award.
Concluded President Marcuse, “For several months we hoped against hope to be able to hold an in-person event. Yet this ceremony included all the significant formal components of LIM’s traditional Commencement exercises, with the pomp and circumstance this unforgettable class deserves. The grace and resilience with which these graduates have handled the last seven months has been inspiring. They worked hard, stayed connected, and showed incredible patience and resolve to get to this day.”