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Commencement FAQs

Commencement FAQs

Frequently asked questions

What time should I arrive at Union for the Commencement Ceremony?

The academic procession starts at 9:30 a.m., so you should aim to be in your seats by 9:00 a.m. or earlier. 

What time is the Commencement Ceremony over?

Immediately after the ceremony itself, students will receive their diplomas in the Rugby Field, west of Nott Memorial.  All should be over before 1:00 p.m.

Where is the Commencement Ceremony held, and are tickets required for seating?

In fair weather, Commencement Exercises will be held outdoors in Roger Hull Plaza in front of Schaffer Library. No tickets are required. There will be seating for family and guests in the Library Plaza area as well as seating under two large tents that will be located on either side of the Nott Memorial. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

In case of light rain, the ceremony will still be held outdoors in Roger Hull Plaza in front of Schaffer Library.  Guests may remain outdoors in the Library Plaza area, or watch the ceremony in the indoor location: Reamer Campus Center Auditorium.

In case of heavy rain, the ceremony will be held in the Memorial Field House. Indoor seating is limited and rain tickets will be required for family and guest seating. Those guests without rain tickets may view the ceremony in the Messa Hockey Rink and the Reamer Campus Center Auditorium.

The College will live-broadcast the ceremony, which guests can view on the Commencement home page in real-time. The broadcast will be archived and posted on the webpage after the ceremony for future access.

How do I know what the weather plan is on commencement day?

The weather plan will be posted on the Commencement homepage. You can also call (518) 388-8373 for a voice message starting at 8:00 a.m on the Commencement day.

How can I obtain rain tickets?

Rain tickets will be sent to students' campus mailboxes by mid-May. Due to limited seating, each graduating senior can get 4 tickets to the Memorial Field House. Other guests will be directed to the Messa Rink or the Reamer Campus Center Auditorium.  Please contact Emily Tong (518) 388-6102 or tonge@union.edu) if you have questions regarding rain tickets. Please note: no tickets are required for outdoor ceremony.

Where will graduates be seated during the ceremony?

In fair weather or light rain, nearly 550 graduates will line up in South Terrace Lane before 9:00 a.m. for the academic procession through the Nott Memorial.  The student seating will be in alphabetical order and split into right and left sides of the front rows of seats. In heavy rain, the ceremony will take place in the Memorial Field House.  The same seating arrangement will be used and students should go straight to their designated seats on or before 9:15 a.m. and get ready for the Commencement Exercises. 

What accommodations are available for disabled guests?

Campus safety officers will be stationed at all entrances of the campus to direct cars. Cars with DMV disability tags will be directed to two designated parking lots on a first-come-first-served basis. A special seating area will be available for people with disability; tickets are required for this area. Please contact Emily Tong at (518) 388-6102 or email her at tonge@union.edu to request special tickets. If there is a need for sign interpreters, please let Emily know by Monday, May 1 so that she can make such arrangements. Drop-off will be at the circle in front of Old Chapel.

How many nights should I stay at a hotel during the Commencement weekend?

One night (Saturday) is the only night necessary; however, some local hotels may require a two-night minimum stay.  

Are there any events I should attend on Saturday?

The Commencement weekend begins with a Baccalaureate Service on Saturday afternoon from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Memorial Chapel (no tickets needed).  After dinner on your own off-campus, you are invited to return for dessert, music and dancing at the Garnet Gala in the College Park Hall Ballroom from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.  The Alumni Relations Office will send you information on this event in May. R.S.V.P. is required.

Will photography, announcements, or other graduation products be available for purchase?

Photographers from GradImages will be at the commencement ceremony to take a candid photograph of each graduate.  You will receive free passport-sized digital proofs of these photos on an order card within two weeks following the ceremony.  You may order online at www.gradimages.com or call 1-(800) 261-2576.  Since photographs will be available, family members and guests are encouraged to remain in their seats to relax and enjoy the ceremony.

Announcement notes, graduation rings, citation folders and other graduation products are available for purchase through Balfour (www.balfour.com).

Allowing these companies to provide you information is intended as a service for graduates and their families.  You are under no obligation to purchase their products.