Commencement Exercises

Where should my family sit during the Commencement Exercises? Families can sit anywhere in the Main Quadrangle area. Factors to keep in mind might be where the graduate is seated, sight lines to the stage and sun versus shade. Graduates will know their seat assignment on Friday of Commencement Weekend. On Sunday morning adult ushers will also be able to tell you where your student is sitting.

Is there reserved seating for Commencement? There are no reserved seats, except for the graduates and special commencement guests. Commencement seating for families is on a first-come, first-served basis. The seating area opens at 7 a.m. The college reserves the right to remove any "saved" signs or items found on the chairs prior to 7 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Can I reserve seats by placing signage the night before? The seating area is set-up several days before Commencement and does not get fine-tuned by the Facilities department until Sunday morning. The Commencement seating area will open at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. Any reserved seats (whether by signs or blankets) on the chairs prior to 7 a.m. may have to be cleared for final arrangement of the entire seating area.

Are there areas for handicapped seating at the graduation ceremonies? The Commencement location has a small area, the Webster Tent, for seating on a first-come, first-served basis. While vehicles are not allowed in the Quad area during Commencement, passengers may be dropped off on the Quad; speak with the Campus Police Officer at the Quad gate.

Are there other areas on campus from which I can view the outside ceremony? Stirn Auditorium will have a video feed of the Commencement Exercises. Stirn is located adjacent to the Mead Art Museum and holds 188 people. The ceremony is also webcast live.

What takes place at the ceremony?
Faculty, students and platform guests proceed into the Main Quadrangle. The program begins with music and the awarding of senior prizes, followed by the speaker for the Senior Class. The secondary school teaching awards are announced, the medal and honorary degrees are conferred and there is an address by the president. Following the Commencement address, students are individually announced, receive their diplomas and walk across the stage. The recessional ends the exercises.

Will we have an opportunity to take pictures? The college has hired Commencement Photos and Collegiate Video to record the ceremony and they will have pictures of each graduate. We have also arranged for a 4" by 6" photo to be mailed free of charge to each graduate following the ceremonies. Public Affairs will have several photographers at Commencement assigned to general coverage. These photos will be made available, in full resolution and free of charge, on the Amherst College Flickr site in the week following Commencement. You are welcome to download, share, print and send these photos. The link to these photos will be posted on the Commencement Web site as soon as it's available.

As a courtesy to the graduates and all in attendance, we ask that you remain outside of the ceremonial roped-off area during Commencement Exercises. Our ushers are instructed to keep non-participants away from the stage area so that the audience can view the ceremony. You may take photos and/or videos from the public seating area. We ask that you be considerate of the families around you.

Who is the Commencement speaker? The speaker at Commencement is the president of Amherst College. There is also a talk given by a graduating senior who has been elected by the senior class. The student speaker is named in May.

When are the Commencement activities over? The Sunday Commencement runs approximately two to two-and-a-half hours, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and is immediately followed by an all-campus luncheon. Families and seniors must be out of the dormitory rooms by 5 p.m. on Sunday so the rooms can be prepared for the Alumni Holiday and Reunion activities.