Commencement ceremony

Photo by Carl Socolow '77

View the archived Commencement 2015 ceremony 

Commencement will begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 17, in front of Old West on the John Dickinson Campus.

Acclaimed author Ian McEwan will deliver the 2015 Commencement address. McEwan has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. Atonement received the 2002 WH Smith Literary Award, the 2003 National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award and Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction, and the 2004 Santiago Prize for the European Novel.

In 2006, McEwan won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday, and his novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards. He has been named the Reader's Digest Author of the Year for 2008, earned the 2010 Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, and in 2011 was awarded the Jerusalem Prize. His most recent novel is The Children Act.

Several thousand chairs will be available. Reserved seating will be roped off for the graduates, faculty and those who require accessible seating. All remaining seating is open and may be held after 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning after college personnel have designated the reserved seating sections. There is no limit to the number of guests per student that may attend this ceremony, and no tickets are necessary.

Those who have difficulty walking or who use a wheelchair may be dropped off at the circular drive behind Old West on West Louther Street.

A limited number of special-seating tickets for those who have difficulty walking or who need wheelchair access may be obtained by contacting the Office of Conferences & Special Events at 717-245-1900 after May 1. We regret that, because of limited space, we can only accommodate one companion with the individual needing special seating.

A live broadcast of the Commencement ceremony will be shown on large projection screens in various campus buildings. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, and all sites are handicapped-accessible. A list of locations will be available during the weekend. For family and friends who cannot travel to Carlisle, a live video feed of the ceremony will be available on the Dickinson Web site at (unless severe weather moves the ceremony indoors).

During the Commencement ceremony, professional photographers hired by the college will take photos of graduates as they receive their diplomas, and a professional firm will record the ceremony. You will be mailed information about purchasing photos and the DVD later this spring.

Some family members may want to take additional photos as the students’ diplomas are presented. A raised platform near the stage will be designated as a photo area. You will be able to see the graduates come down the stone steps in alphabetical order, and college personnel will be stationed adjacent to the photo area to help you move onto the platform shortly before your graduate receives his or her diploma. Your cooperation in moving quickly will allow other families to have the same opportunity.  

Following Commencement, there will be a college-sponsored brunch in the Holland Union Building (HUB). All graduates and their families are welcome to attend. Each student may pick up five free tickets, one for the graduate and four guests, for this event in the Office of Conferences & Special Events. Additional tickets also may be purchased in advance at $7.25 each in that office or in Dining Services.

At the request of past graduates and parents, we will not roll the actual diplomas. The original diplomas will be available for pickup by the graduate or a family member on Britton Plaza (or, in the case of inclement weather, in Biddle House) immediately following Commencement. Please be sure to pick them up by 2 p.m.

A severe-weather plan will be used only in the case of thunder, lightning, high winds, hail or other conditions that make it unsafe to hold Commencement outside. Rain alone does not constitute severe weather. If the severe-weather plan is used, an announcement will be made by 7 a.m. on Sunday on the college’s home page, If in doubt, you may call 717-245-1900 for information. If severe weather occurs, the ceremony will be held in the Kline Athletic Center.

Flowers will be available for purchase on Sunday near Althouse Hall, or in the lobby of the Kline Athletic Center in case of severe weather. If you would like to pre-order flowers for your graduate, visit the Dickinson College Bookstore's Web site at