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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.  Dining Services will have stations at the commencement site to provide you with complimentary coffee, tea and pastries.

What time is the Commencement Ceremony over?

Immediately after the ceremony itself, representatives of the College's academic departments host receptions where the students actually receive their diplomas.  These receptions should be over before 1:30 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 locations indicated on their rain tickets.  The indoor locations are Frank Messa Rink, Memorial Chapel, the Reamer Auditorium, Olin Auditorium, the Emerson Hall in the Taylor Music Center.

In case of heavy rain, the ceremony will be held in the Frank Messa Rink in Achilles Center.  Seating in Messa Rink is limited, and the rain tickets marked “Achilles Center – Frank Messa Rink” will be required for family and guest seating in the rink.  Those guests with and without tickets to other rain sites (preference is given to those with tickets) may view the ceremony in Memorial Chapel, Reamer Auditorium, Emerson Hall in the Taylor Music Center, electronic classrooms in the basement of Lippman Hall, Olin Auditorium (115) and Wold Building 128 and 225.

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

The weather plan will be posted on the Commencement home page. 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?

Students can request rain tickets through the Google form that will be sent to them in mid-May.  Rain tickets will be sent to their campus mailboxes. 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 500 graduates will line up in South Terrace Lane 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 Frank Messa Rink in the Achilles Center.  The same seating arrangement will be used, but the students will not march into the rink. They should go straight to their designated seats at the center of the rink 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 disability tags will be directed to two (2) 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 tickets. If there is a need for sign interpreters, please let Emily know by Monday, May 11 so that she can make such arrangements. Golf carts will also be available around campus and College Park Hall to transport those who might need aid in getting to the Commencement site. No reservation is needed for the golf cart services.

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 Commemoration 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 before the end of April.

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 a week 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).

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.

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.