University Commencement is a university-wide ceremony at which the president of the university formally confers all undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded throughout the past academic year. It is an exciting and festive occasion with students and faculty from all of Cornell’s schools and colleges participating in academic regalia.
Graduation at Cornell is comprised of two components: the ceremonial Commencement exercises where all university graduate and undergraduate degrees are formally conferred en masse, plus separate recognition ceremonies or receptions within each college. Sunday’s Commencement is a ceremony distinct from various college events happening throughout the weekend. Also, Commencement should not be confused with Convocation which takes place on Saturday with an invited guest speaker.
Over 7,000 candidates will earn degrees, including undergraduate and graduate degrees. Of those, about 6,ooo will attend the May ceremony.
It takes nearly an hour (10:00-11:00am) for students, faculty, administrators, and trustees to process into the stadium and be seated. An announcement and large banner will designate the arrival of each college. This is a fun & festive time – watch for your graduate on the Jumbotron or livestream!
At this large university ceremony, candidates do not cross the stage and names are not announced. Rather, each college’s degree candidates will rise, when instructed, and degrees will be formally conferred en masse, by the university president. The ceremony will end by noon, with the singing of the Alma Mater.
Next, all graduates and guests will leave the stadium to go to the graduate’s college event, if planned for Sunday afternoon. These events are happening at various locations all across campus. Graduates exit the stadium at the north end of the field to walk to their next event. Families exit the stadium from the Crescent or from the south end of the field, then join their graduate at the next event.
Make sure everyone in your party knows the graduate’s college and department!
The college events are where families like to take photos and celebrate with their graduate. Most events on campus are over by 3:30pm or before, but check with the appropriate event planner for the exact end time of a specific event.
|Sunday||Arrival and Schedule|
|7:30am||Buses begin making loops around campus to transport guests from parking lots to Schoellkopf Stadium (Crescent side).
Stadium gates open at 8am on Sunday.
|8-8:30am||Arrive on campus to allow time to park (follow signs to parking), then ride a bus to the stadium. Guests with Accessibility Plans should follow specific instructions received with their Plan.
Allow time for safety and security measures at stadium entrances.
|9:15am||Families should be in stadium seats by 9:15, when announcements begin.
General Seating: Crescent bleachers
Accessible Blue Plan: by portals in Crescent bleachers
Accessible Yellow Plan: on the field, south end zone
Graduates must be on Arts Quad at 9:15, assembling for the procession.
|10-11am||Procession arriving at Schoellkopf Stadium|
|11-noon||Commencement Ceremony at Schoellkopf Stadium|
Commencement Programs are distributed at Schoellkopf Stadium on Sunday morning. Programs include a stadium diagram showing student seating locations on the field, restrooms, concessions, water coolers, and first aid stations. Programs also list the Sunday afternoon college events and a map of their locations.
Make sure everyone in your party knows the graduate’s college and department, in advance! You will need this information in order to look up the student’s next event in the program and find the location and directions/bus stop in order to meet your student there. Cell service may not be reliable inside the full stadium, making it temporarily difficult to reach your student for information.
We offer a number of ways to view the Commencement procession and ceremony from Ithaca and elsewhere.
Commencement will be livestreamed, rain or shine, at http://cornell.edu/video (link will be posted that day) starting 10:00am EST. This is a great option for family and friends who are unable to travel to Ithaca but want to cheer on the graduate and join the celebration. Watch the live broadcast 10am-noon or the archived broadcast at a later time.
Television (Local Homes & Hotels)
Commencement will be televised, rain or shine, at 10:00am, on local Spectrum Cable channel 16. The live broadcast may be viewed on televisions in area homes and hotels equipped with local Spectrum Cable.
Indoor Simulcast on Campus
Commencement will be simulcast on large indoor screens at Newman Arena in Bartels Hall, Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall, and Statler Auditorium in Statler Hall. This is a great option for guests who prefer to avoid crowds, sun, rain, heat/cold, etc. No reservations are necessary. To get to the indoor viewing locations, you may park on campus then ride a bus or walk to the location.
A professionally produced 2-hour DVD of the Commencement procession and ceremony is available for purchase through The Cornell Store.
General Seating at Schoellkopf is in the Crescent, which is all bleacher-style with stairs and no back support. From the Crescent Lot, guests walk to the concourse underneath the Crescent, then walk through an entryway (portal) that leads into the Crescent bleachers inside the stadium. These entryways are 2/3 of the way up in the Crescent, not near the ground or field level. Guests walk up or down from the portals to find open seating which is first-come, first-served. Earlier arrival is recommended for large groups to find seating together.
Accessibility: Two types of Accessibility Plans are available upon request and are valid both Saturday & Sunday. Guests with Blue Plans enter the Crescent and sit next to portals to reduce their number of stairs. Guests with Yellow Plans enter the stadium from a different location (not the Crescent) and sit on the south end of the field in folding chairs or wheelchairs. Note: Guests bringing a wheelchair or scooter to the stadium (for seating or to keep nearby) must have a Yellow Plan. …more
Graduates sit in chairs on the field, grouped by their degree-conferring college.
Strollers: The Crescent is all bleacher seating, which is not conducive to large strollers. There is no place to use or park a stroller in the Crescent. Smaller umbrella-style strollers are fine since they can be folded and stored on a lap.
Pets are prohibited from university-controlled buildings, except for those animals that are specifically exempted by this policy.
In good and fair weather, Commencement will take place at Schoellkopf Stadium, as planned. The stadium does not have roof, so prepare for all weather conditions, including rain showers or several hours in the sun. Indoor viewing locations are available on campus, and do not need to be reserved in advance (see Livestream and Indoor Viewing).
In potentially dangerous weather, torrential downpour, high winds, lightning, or any other condition deemed too unsafe to hold the ceremony at the stadium, we will enact our Severe Weather Plan for Commencement. Please review the Severe Weather Plan for Commencement, as many logistics will change.