Virtual Commencement on May 16, 2020

Congratulations Class of 2020!

In the face of unimaginable change, you have shown true grit and resilience. We couldn't be more proud of you! While we can't celebrate in person, we've put together a series of videos from CDes faculty, students, staff, and alumni in your honor. You can watch the videos starting Saturday, May 16, at 11:30 AM CDT.

View the College of Design 2020 Commencement Program.

Watch the College of Design Celebration Videos

Looking for the University's systemwide virtual celebration?

Visit the University's central Commencement page to watch the systemwide celebration starting Saturday, May 16, at 11:00 AM CDT.

Commencement FAQs

Caps and gowns are optional, but if you'd still like to order one to take pictures in, you can do so through the University Bookstore.

Nila R. Leiserowitz, FASID, FIIDA is a builder and an entrepreneur-a pillar of both the design and business communities. For more than 40 years, at global companies like Gensler and Perkins+Will, she has championed mentorship initiatives, spearheaded talent development strategies, and pushed the limits of business performance.

As a trustee of the Chicago Architecture Center, World Business Chicago, and member of the Economic Club and International Women's Forum, Nila is an internationally recognized leader in workplace design innovation. Nila credits her success to her ability to reimagine what's possible, take calculated business risks, and cultivate great leaders to work alongside her.

Nila started her own firm at the age of 24, creating a new interior design delivery philosophy for the Minneapolis business community. She sold her successful business and joined the global firm Perkins+Will as Interiors Vice President. Starting in 1989, she led Perkins+Will's Interiors practice, where her passion for continuous professional growth led her to establish one of the architecture world's first talent development programs. She was also the first woman invited in the 75-year history of the firm to serve on the Perkins+Will Board of Directors.

In 1996 Nila brought her entrepreneurial spirit and tenacity to Gensler, a global architecture and design firm. She resurrected the Workplace practice in Los Angeles and introduced what is now known as Gensler's Workplace Survey-an independent research study that serves as a worldwide index of data-informed best practices related to the future of the office. Propelled by these triumphs, Nila took the helm of Gensler's Los Angeles office in 2004. Under her guidance-and specifically due to her financial foresight and intentional investment in people-the office weathered both the dot-com bubble and the Great Recession, emerging in a position to rebound ahead of other firms.

Beginning in 2010, Nila served as the Managing Principal of Gensler's North Central Region (one of 10 regions globally), where she elevated a culture of design excellence and established new markets including Healthcare, Planning & Urban Design, and Economic Analytics. She initiated programs to recruit, onboard, and retain key senior hires, effectively aligning business strategies with talent strategies. Under the influence of her leadership, the region's revenue more than doubled. In the last few years alone, the region has been recognized and awarded by nearly 70 different associations and agencies including IIDA, ASID, AIA, ASLA, ULI, Architizer, Chicago Building Congress, Chicago Tribune, and Crain's Chicago Business.

As global companies and next-generation startups seek to evolve their employee development and business initiatives in order to attract and retain top talent, address shifting client expectations, and take strategic planning to the next level to achieve key growth metrics in a complex business environment, Nila looks forward to lending her business acumen, extensive expertise, and fortitude in the face of change.

  • If you graduate with an overall GPA of 3.750 – 3.889, you will earn a level of Distinction.
  • If you graduate with an overall GPA of 3.900 or higher, you will earn a level of High Distinction.
  • Latin Honors: for students participating in the University Honors Program (UHP).
Notation will be included next to the student’s name in the printed program. (A link on the CDes Virtual Commencement page will be available to open the text of the program.) Students graduating with Distinction or High Distinction will receive honors cords in the mail prior to the May 16 Virtual Commencement. Students completing Latin Honors will receive an honors medallion directly from UHP.

Students who have an expected graduation term (EGT) of Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020 will be sent an invitation to their U of M email.

If you are unsure of your EGT or need to have it updated, please contact your academic advisor.

Most students generally receive their diplomas two to three months after completing their degree requirements. Participation in the graduation ceremony does not guarantee that you have completed your degree. Be sure to contact your academic advisor if you have questions or concerns about completing your degree requirements. International students: diplomas currently take two to three months LONGER to reach your international address. Consider using FedEx delivery. See OneStop for more information.

Any further questions may be sent to