SUNY Downstate's First Ever "Virtual Commencement" to Confer Diplomas to 37 Early Graduates of the College of Medicine

By Office of Communications & Marketing | May 1, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT: John Gillespie | | (314) 708-9090

Early Graduation Answers Governor Cuomo's Call for New Physicians to Begin Working Immediately during the Pandemic

Brooklyn, N.Y. (May 1, 2020) - With the ongoing concern about the spread of COVID-19 and with the State of New York still on pause and continuing social distancing precautions, SUNY Downstate will celebrate the early graduation of 37 College of Medicine students with a "Virtual Commencement" ceremony that will be live-streamed on Friday, May 1 at 3:00 PM.

An additional 158 College of Medicine graduates, along with more than 500 graduates from SUNY Downstate's College of Nursing, School of Public Health, School of Health Professions, and the School of Graduate Studies, will have the opportunity to participate in a similar virtual commencement on May 20, 2020.

"Having worked hard to become physicians, we understand the disappointment our graduates must feel not being able to celebrate this important milestone traditionally with family, friends, and classmates and the walk across the stage," said SUNY Downstate President Wayne J. Riley, M.D. "Our hope is that this virtual commencement, including the traditional reading of the Hippocratic Oath, will bring some of the pomp and circumstance of commencement to our graduates."

On April 4, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an executive order allowing medical students who had completed their requirements to graduate early in order to bolster the state’s physician workforce.

Along with their families, graduates from all five schools will be invited to return to participate in SUNY Downstate's in-person Commencement ceremonies in May of 2021, where they will be able to march in procession and be hooded on stage.

SUNY Downstate College of Medicine is the largest medical school in the City of New York, second largest in the State of New York and among the 25 largest medical school by enrollment in the United States.  There are more SUNY Downstate College of Medicine graduates practicing medicine in both New York City and New York State than from any other medical school in the country.

In all, 124 College of Medicine graduates, or 65 percent, will begin their residencies at a New York State institution, including 22 at SUNY Downstate.  A total of 83 students—43 percent of the class—matched with a hospital in New York City, and another 38 graduates—or 16 percent—will remain in the New York City metropolitan area, including Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties.


About SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 342-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of New York City, and Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital of Brooklyn (UHB) is Downstate’s teaching hospital, backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to UHB, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter at @sunydownstate.