Instructions for Graduates

Congratulations! Please read and follow these step-by-step guidelines. Weather permitting, the ceremony is held on Page Terrace in front of Grafton Library.

  1. Under Your Academic Robe
    Please wear conservative, preferably dark, clothing to reflect respect for the occasion, your accomplishments, and those of other graduates. Wear dark dress shoes (narrow heels are not recommended). Wear lightweight clothing, appropriate to the weather. Men need not wear jackets, but ties are customarily worn with academic regalia. Close your gown with safety pins if necessary. Put on hoods with the velvet edge outward, so that from the rear you see the velvet on the outside with the lining on the inside. Hood may be pinned to the top of your gown to prevent it from sliding under your chin. Review the detailed regalia page if you have further questions.
  2. Cap Placement
    Wear cap flat and square on your head, not tilted, with the band just above your eyebrows and the board horizontal. BA and BS candidates put tassels on the right side. Master’s candidates put tassels on the left side. You will be told to switch the tassel to the left side during the ceremony.
  3. Arrival
    1. Undergraduates
      Go to Hunt Dining Hall/West fully dressed in your academic gown and hood, ready to march no later than 9:15 a.m. The Hunt bathrooms are reserved for emergency only; do not plan to use them to dress. Go upstairs to Hunt West and find your place in line.
    2. GTE graduates
      Arrive at 8:45 a.m. for the GTE group photo. The photo will be taken on the terrace between the Administration Building and the Agnes R. McClung Residence Hall (#1 and #24 on the campus map).Graduates need to be there by 8:45 a.m. Photo will be taken promptly at 9 a.m. PLEASE BE SURE TO ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME FOR PARKING.
  4. Line Up
    Seniors: go to Hunt West and find the four lines of seniors, in order by degree and alphabetically. Please look for signs and lists you are given to find your place. Staff will be there to assist you. Please follow their direction. A student marshal, who will be distinguished by having a yellow epaulet on her left shoulder, will lead each line. Follow your marshals’ directions to process in and take your seats.Graduate students will also find two lines in Hunt arranged alphabetically. Use the commencement program to find your place in line alphabetically. Student marshals wearing a yellow epaulet on her left shoulder will lead each of the two lines of graduates down the hill to seating.commencement_map
  5. Prayer Etiquette
    Men should remove their caps when a prayer/benediction is offered, replacing them at close of prayer — unless they come from a faith tradition in which covering the head is a sign of reverence. Watch the faculty for your cue! Women do not remove their caps at any time during the ceremony.
  6. Step Forward When Called
    Your student marshal will tell your row when to stand and move into the aisle as the Dean reads names. When the Dean reads your name, walk to the President — even if you are out of order in the line and need to walk ahead of other students. If you are next in line, and the Dean calls a name that is not yours, shake your head to indicate that is not you and stay where you are. If no one comes from behind you, the Dean will know the person is not present and add the words in absentia, and then he will continue with the list.
  7. Receiving Your Diploma
    The President will hand you a (blank) diploma with her left hand while shaking your right hand; then continue on to shake hands with the chair of the Board of Trustees. Walk back to your seat by going behind the chairs for the platform party and enter your row from the side nearest the library — class marshals will direct you.
  8. End of Ceremony
    The platform party and faculty exit first followed by new graduates. The faculty will line both sides of the steps returning to Hunt allowing graduates to march between them. This tradition reverses the usual marching order and marks the faculty’s respect for the graduates’ achievements. Do not stop the marching line for long farewells to faculty and continue to Hunt.
  9. Greeting Friends and Family
    Ask friends and family to meet you after the ceremony somewhere other than Hunt. You are encouraged to gather on the Administration Building Front Lawn for a reception. After the ceremony, undergraduates may pick up their diploma in the Administration Building Parlor by 1:30 p.m. If you wish to leave your cap and gown for future students to use for Charter Day, Founders Day, and SGA Installation, they will be gratefully accepted at this time. MAT and MEd students will receive their diplomas immediately following the ceremonies at the family luncheon at the Student Activities Center Ballroom. Graduates attending the Commencement Ceremonies only can also pick up their diploma there. Diplomas will be mailed to those students that are unable to attend Commencement.