Baccalaureate Ceremony

Saturday, May 19

The Baccalaureate ceremony will be held on the lawn in front of Old West on Saturday, May 19. Please plan to be on hand to line up at 2:15 p.m. Graduates will form a double column on the sidewalk in front of the Waidner-Spahr Library, facing N. College Street. Gowns should be worn without caps. Seniors need not line up in alphabetical order for this ceremony. The procession will begin promptly at 2:45 p.m.; the official ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. Assistant marshals will direct seniors to their seats. Following the ceremony, seniors should remain seated until the processional passes their row. At this time, the ceremony concludes.

Regalia may be picked up in the bookstore Thursday, May 17-Saturday, May 19. 

Baccalaureate Ceremony History

The origin of the Baccalaureate service dates back to the medieval European custom of presenting candidates for the degree of bachelor (bacca) with laurels (lauri). Historically, the Baccalaureate ceremony was a religious service to celebrate and recognize the intellectual achievements of the graduates.

Today, the Baccalaureate ceremony is a time for students to reflect on their years at Dickinson through speeches, music, multifaith prayers and other means of expression. Students can articulate the value of their Dickinson education and share how it has challenged or transformed them.


Commencement Exercises

Sunday, May 20

Commencement will be held on the lawn in front of Old West on Sunday, May 20. Early in the morning, college staff will reserve seating for the class of 2018 and faculty, and special seating for those who have made arrangements in advance for attendees with physical disabilities and guests of the platform party. All other seats are unreserved and may be held after 6:30 a.m. There is no limit to the number of guests per student who may attend this ceremony, and no tickets are necessary, should the ceremony be held outdoors.

Caps and gowns are to be worn. Please assemble at 9 a.m.; be prompt because the assistant marshals must arrange seniors in alphabetical order. Seniors will form two columns on the sidewalk adjacent to the John Dickinson Campus along W. High Street. Look for the signs organizing graduates alphabetically by last name. It is extremely important to be in the proper place in line. The procession will begin at 9:35 a.m, and the ceremony will begin at 10 a.m.

The seniors will follow the faculty procession and will be escorted to their seats by assistant marshals. When it is time to receive individual degrees, please remain seated until directed by an assistant marshal to leave by the east aisle. The graduates will proceed to the east end of Old West, enter through the door to the ground floor, continue through the building to the west end, climb the stairs and proceed down the hallway to Memorial Hall, down the Old Stone Steps to the platform and finally back to their seats. A photo area has been designated to provide family members with the best possible view of the ceremony. At the close of the ceremony, graduates will follow the platform party and the faculty leaving by way of the east aisle, retracing the approximate route used in the procession. During the recession, the platform party and faculty will form two columns through which graduates will pass. Recession concludes at the end of the walkway.

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 website.

Post-Ceremony Brunch Ticketing Policy and Distribution

Each graduate may pick up five complimentary advance tickets for brunch (one graduate and four guests) in the Office of Conferences and Special Events. Tickets will also be available for sale on Sunday, May 20, at the HUB Information Desk (cash or check only).

Commencement History

The Commencement exercises at Dickinson represent the culmination of one’s undergraduate experience and the successful completion of the requirements for graduation. The faculty and Board of Trustees of the college approve the conferral of degrees prior to the ceremony.

The first Dickinson College Commencement exercises were held in the Presbyterian church on the town square, and the occasion was something of a public holiday. Professors and students marched in procession, first from the college buildings in Liberty Alley and then from our present campus. Each graduate gave proof of his learning by delivering an address in Latin or English, a practice that continued through most of the 19th century.

The gowns worn by participants hearken back to the monastic robes of the Middle Ages. The hood—originally worn by clergy and students for warmth in drafty halls—was retained in special cases, such as academic distinction.

Important Considerations

The tassel may be moved from right to left after you leave the stage. This provides an unobstructed view for the professional photographer taking your photo. Women may wish to wear dress flats as the procession and recession will cross the grass, which could be soft from rain. In the case of inclement weather, you may wish to wear casual clothes beneath your robe and carry an umbrella. Please dress appropriately for conditions.