2017 Commencement

Use this page to help you prepare for Commencement weekend, Friday, May 12 - Sunday, May 14, 2017

Please Note: Baccalaureate and Commencement rehearsals are for student marshals and platform party members only and not for the entire senior class.

Weekend Events

Senior Reception - Friday, May 12

Begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday in Hall-Perrine, Thomas Commons

What is Senior Reception?

This annual event is the kick-off event for Commencement weekend and has been a school tradition since 1989. Join President Brand, the Office of Student Affairs, the Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving Office, and members of the Cornell College Faculty & Staff, as we say good-bye and good luck!

What should I wear?

This is a semi-formal event. If you are looking for a reason to dress up a bit, this is your opportunity. It would be very appropriate to wear shirts & ties or dresses. Have fun with it!

Baccalaureate - Saturday, May 13

Begins at 3 p.m. Saturday in King Chapel

What is Baccalaureate?

This Cornell tradition features playful and meaningful words of gratitude by graduating seniors on behalf of their faculty, family, staff, and friends, as well as music played on the College's impressive Moller organ, and inter-spiritual wisdom for the life journey which includes a message by College Chaplain Catherine Quehl-Engel. This optional event for graduating seniors and their loved ones lasts about an hour.

When do I need to be there? What should I wear?

Seniors, faculty and staff should arrive at 2:30 p.m. on the sidewalk between King Chapel and Old Sem to line up for the processional. Seniors should wear their academic gown but not their cap.

President’s Reception for Seniors & Families - Saturday, May 13

Begins at 4 p.m. (after Baccalaureate)

President Jonathan Brand welcomes all graduates and their families to celebrate their achievements. The reception will be held in the Bardsley Grand Foyer of the Thomas Commons directly following Baccalaureate. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served. No RSVP necessary.

Commencement ceremony - Sunday, May 14, at 10 a.m.

The ceremony will be held outdoors on the quad bordered by South Hall, College Hall, and Norton Geology.   

Note: If you do not plan to participate in Commencement, please contact the Registrar's Office at 319-895-4374 or mlong@cornellcollege.edu.

When do I need to be there? What should I wear?

Seniors must arrive at 9 a.m. in King Chapel to line up for the commencement ceremony, wearing their academic gown and cap. They will then proceed to the ceremony location (College Hall lawn) once everyone has assembled. 

College staff will assist seniors with lining up and processing. Once the senior line is ready, the academic marshals will lead the seniors through the faculty and staff line and into the seating area.

What if there is severe weather expected during the outdoor ceremony?

If severe weather is expected, Commencement will be held in the Small Multi-Sport Center. Seniors will still be expected to line up for the ceremony at 9 a.m., but line-up will occur in the gym upstairs in the Sport Center. Notification of the venue change will occur by noon Friday via e-mail to all seniors and will be placed on the college’s homepage. If outdoors, umbrellas will not be allowed in the seating area. Ponchos will be provided in the event of rain.

What should I expect during the ceremony?

Cornell has a proud tradition of affinity seating, giving seniors the opportunity to sit with close friends from their class during the Commencement ceremony.

During the ceremony, the marshal will notify your row when you are to stand and move to the platform. You will enter the platform from the north side, receive your diploma cover from President Brand when your name is read, and exit the south side.

The ceremony will conclude with a benediction and recessional (for platform party and faculty only) during which everyone will stand and remain standing until the recessional is over.

When and where do I pick up my diploma?

After the ceremony please remember to pick up your diploma from the tables along the Ped Mall on the west side of College Hall prior to 1 p.m. Additional information about diploma distribution is available on the Registrar's website.

Additional information

Commencement weekend brunch tickets

Each graduate receives three complimentary tickets (one for the graduate and two for guests) for brunch in the Hilltop Café following the Commencement ceremony. Additional tickets may be pre-purchased May 10-13 at the Hilltop Café or by calling dining services at 319.895.4499. Advance ticket prices are $12 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Tickets at the door are $15 for adults and $6 for children under 12. There is no charge for children under 3. 

Announcements and cap & gown orders

Commencement announcements are coordinated through our campus bookstore. Announcements and your cap and gown are ordered online. Cap and gown orders must be completed by April 7. You will pay for and pick up orders at the bookstore beginning May 8. The cap and gown total cost is $48.

Social media
Share graduation pictures and messages on social media using #CornellCGrad.

Senior and Faculty Speaker selection

One tradition is for the senior class to nominate the Faculty Speaker (selected by the President) and select the Senior Speaker. Final election of the senior speaker from the top five nominees will be conducted in April.


If you have any questions about Commencement weekend schedules and procedures, please feel free to call or stop by the Office of Academic Affairs on the second floor of Old Sem, 319-895-4210.