General Information for Commencement Weekend

Accessible Accessibility

All of our Commencement event locations are accessible. Wheelchairs can be rented at Taylor Rental located on Route 9 in Hadley (413/584-4184), or at Mass Surgical Supply (413/532-1401) in Holyoke. For further information regarding pick up and return, please call the vendors.

The Commencement location has a small tent for seating on a first-come, first-served basis. While vehicles are not generally allowed in the Quad, passengers with special needs may be driven to the Quad; speak with the Campus Police Officer at the Quad gate. Vans will circulate campus and may be flagged for transport to the Quad. Special arrangements for transportation can be made with Campus Police by calling 413/542-2291 or 413/542-RIDE.

Commencement Headquarters

During the Commencement Weekend, Commencement Headquarters is located in the Alumni House and short-stay parking is available in front of the building (see parking map). Guides can provide a Schedule of Events, on-campus dormitory room keys, Commencement rain tickets (students must bring ID to pick up tickets), concert tickets, information on events in the area and lists of restaurants and local lodging. Headquarters will be open starting on Friday at 1 p.m. 

Dining on Campus

Valentine Hall will be open during Commencement Weekend and will be serving meals at the following times: Friday breakfast from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.;  lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and  dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Hours on Saturday and Sunday are 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. for breakfast.  A luncheon will be served on the Valentine Quadrangle on both Saturday and Sunday. Additional information, including breakfast menus, can be found at Dining Services closer to the Commencement Weekend. Valentine Hall will not be open for the evening meal on Saturday or Sunday.

Schwemm’s Gourmet Coffee House in Keefe Campus Center is open Friday and Saturday from 8a.m to 2  p.m. and Sunday from 7a.m. to  2 p.m. 

Medical Services

The Student Health Service will be open Commencement Weekend. The hours are Friday, 8:30 a.m to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The telephone number is 413/531-6761. Students continue to be covered for urgent medical needs (during the hours when the Student Health Office is not open) at the University of Massachusetts Health Center, telephone 413/577-5000 on Friday until 6 p.m. Students, visitors and families may be served at the University Health Services during these “off hours” on a fee-for-service basis. Students and families with urgent medical needs over the weekend (during the hours when the Keefe Health Center and University of Massachusetts Health Center are closed ) can go to the AEIOU urgent care clinic located at 170 University Drive in Amherst (across from Big Y). Their phone number is 413/461-3530.
AEIOU Hours: Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 pm.
For emergencies, contact Campus Police at (413) 542-2111. The nearest hospital for emergency care is Cooley Dickinson Hospital, located at 30 Locust Street in Northampton, Mass. Their phone number is (413) 582-2000).

Photographs and Video Recording

We understand that Commencement is an important experience for students and families. With this in mind, we are happy to offer the following help for those interested in photography during the ceremony.

Commencement Photos, Inc. (telephone 978/851-5924) will be taking pictures of each senior as they receive their diploma from the president. Photo packages will be available to all either through the Commencement Photos website, or as a result of mailings to the families of the graduates. As a gift to the class, CPI will also be taking a photo of each senior after they receive their cane. The 4x6 photo, free of charge, will be included in the sample photo mailing from CPI in the weeks following Commencement.

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 website as soon as it's available.

Collegiate Video (telephone 802/365-4414) has been authorized by Amherst College to produce a keepsake DVD featuring all the important highlights from the Commencement ceremonies.  The DVDs will include footage of your graduate being announced, crossing the stage, and receiving their diploma. Families receive a brochure and order form in the mail or ordering can be done online.  DVDs are approximately 90 minutes in length.  Information is also available on the website.

Photographs after the ceremony: Some wonderful locations to capture a photo of your happy graduate after the ceremony include:

  • The Stage Area: After the recessional has left the stage area, guests are invited to take photos on or near the stage.
  • War Memorial: Using the Holyoke range as the background, the War Memorial offers a stunning option for photos.
  • Stearns Steeple: Located just in front of the entrance to the Mead Museum, the steeple with its granite exterior provides an austere and elegant backdrop.

On-Campus Parties

Please see Guidelines for On-Campus Parties.