Commencement 2019


2018 Commencement Speaker John Grotzinger '79, Sc.D. '13

Checklist for Parents/Questions/Answers

When will registration instructions be sent home?

A postcard will be mailed around the 1st of March letting you know that the registration form is now available online. Families who will stay on campus and/or will purchase meal tickets must preregister by May 8 and must pick up their registration materials at the Welcome Desk in the lobby of Scandling Campus Center. The Welcome Desk will be open on Friday, May 11, from 4-8 p.m. and on Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Room keys, meal tickets and general information will be available at the Welcome Desk. If you plan to arrive after the desk closes at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, please have your son or daughter pick up your tickets and room keys during regular registration hours. Any room keys not picked up by 4:00 p.m. on Saturday will be available at the Campus Safety Office in the Medbery parking lot.

Will we need to purchase meal tickets for my graduating senior during Commencement weekend?

When registering, please note the following: All seniors who purchase a Senior Week Bracelet through Student Activities will be able to enjoy the Senior Family Barbeque on Friday evening. Seniors will enjoy the Saturday Evening Gala Dinner, complimentary, courtesy of Dining Services. Graduating seniors who plan to join their families at the breakfast and luncheon on Sunday must purchase a ticket in advance. Vegetarian and Gluten Free entrees will be available at all meals.

What is Baccalaureate?

Baccalaureate is a ceremony of transition, thankfulness, and reflection in honor of our graduates.

Is there a dress code for the formal ceremonies?

While ceremonies like Baccalaureate and Commencement are formal occasions, you will want to plan to be comfortable outdoors for a sustained period of time for each event and various receptions.  In May, Geneva temperatures can range from the mid 30's to the high 80's.  Warm clothing, sun protection, appropriate footwear and umbrellas are all advisable. Most guests aim for “dress casual” during the weekend.

Is there a limit to the number of people we can invite to Commencement Weekend?

Typically, Commencement is held outside on the Hobart Quad, and in that event location we do not limit attendance.  If the rain plan is announced, Commencement will be held in the Robert A. Bristol ’31 Field House, and in the event we do have to host the ceremony indoors, we do not plan to limit attendance.

What about inclement weather?

Rain Plan: WGVA (1240 AM and 96.1 FM), WEOS (89.5 and 90.3 FM) and WHWS 105.7 FM will make continuous announcements Sunday morning beginning at 7 a.m. You may also call (315) 781- 3150 or check the HWS Update for the most current information regarding location. Special parking and shuttle services will be made available should the rain plan be implemented.

Can parents and guests stay in residence hall rooms?

Rooms are available for families in residence halls on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights for $100 per room per night. These dormitory rooms have two twin beds with shared bathrooms and limited amenities.

Staying in the residence halls is convenient and economical, but it is not luxurious! Dorm rooms are equipped with the basics – sheets on a twin bed, a blanket, a pillow, small towels and soap. You may want to pack an alarm clock, additional towels, and extra blanket, a fan and anything else you may need to be more comfortable. Most residence halls are not air-conditioned, so if you are sensitive to heat or have health related needs, we encourage you to consider staying at a hotel, bed and breakfast, or rent a house.

How much does it cost to rent a room in the residence halls?

All rooms are $100 per room per night and must be reserved by Tuesday, May 8.

Do you provide linens?

Yes, the rooms are equipped with the basics: two twin beds, sheets, a blanket, a pillow, small towels. You may want to bring extra pillows and/or larger towels.

Can my extended family and friends use the online registration pages to make reservations?

Yes, any guest may use the online registration materials beginning in March. If someone in your family needs a paper copy of the registration materials, please call (315) 781-3700 or email

Is there parking for guests with accessibility needs?

Yes, parking is available in the Medbery parking lot if Commencement is held on the Hobart Quad. If the rain plan is implemented, there will be limited ADA parking available at the Robert A. Bristol ’31 Field House. Everyone is strongly encouraged to ride the shuttle if possible. If you have special needs that may require accommodation in order to ensure full participation in Commencement Weekend, please contact the Parents Office at (315) 781-3700.

Are there services for guests with hearing needs?

Yes, there will be a sign language interpreter at Commencement.

Will there be a professional photographer?

A professional photographer will photograph each senior as he/she receives his/her diploma. You will receive a color proof and order form a few weeks after Commencement, or you can contact:

Genesee Photo
P.O. Box 6691
Syracuse, NY 13217-6691
(800) 345-7427

Will there be a video of Commencement available?

Personalized DVD/Blu-ray Videos of Commencement Exercises can be ordered when you complete the online registration, or by sending the completed Video Order form and check made out to Hobart and William Smith Colleges to the address on the form. If you have questions or require assistance please contact the IT Services Help Desk at The videos are completed and mailed in late July.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.