The College of William and Mary Commencement is a multi-day event that brings thousands of friends and family to Williamsburg to celebrate.
The university-wide commencement ceremony at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in Zable Stadium — or Kaplan Arena in case of rain or heat — will recognize 1,438 undergraduates and 764 graduate students.
The event is ticketed and degrees will be granted in groups by major. Only those receiving PhD and EdD degrees will be recognized by name.
The seniors will “Walk Across Campus”, a William and Mary tradition, starting at the Wren Building at 7:45 a.m. The graduates take the opposite path they took as freshmen at convocation, completing the symbolic circle begun by the opening ceremony.
Family and friends are welcome to line the path as the seniors take their last walk off campus.
Award-winning actress and College of William and Mary alumna Glenn Close will serve as the keynote speaker at the event, which will also mark the first where William and Mary President Katherine Rowe presides. The women will speak alongside Chancellor Robert M. Gates.
“Glenn Close is a remarkable person in so many ways,” Associate Director of University News Erin Zagursky wrote in an email following the announcement. “We hope that she shares some of the lessons she has learned from her extraordinary life and inspires her fellow William and Mary alumni as they begin the next chapter of their lives.”
Graduate-level business, education and marine science majors will receive diplomas on Saturday at separate ceremonies. Undergraduates will receive their diplomas and be recognized by name at departmental ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday.
Commencement weekend kicks off Friday with the school’s second-ever Lavender Graduation Ceremony. Held in the Integrated Science Center from 9:30-11 a.m., the pre-commencement event creates a space to celebrate LGBTQ+ students’ accomplishments and culture.
New this year is the LatinX Ceremony. Students who are of Latin American descent will celebrate their heritage and look forward to post-graduation plans.
“William and Mary recognizes the significance of multicultural ceremonies both as celebrations to honor academic achievement, culture and as an opportunity to acknowledge and emphasize the value of community during the college journey, particularly to historically underrepresented students,” said Kimberly Weatherly, assistant dean of students and director of the Center for Student Diversity.
The university’s inaugural commencement event specifically for Latinx students, called Ceremonia Raices meaning “Ceremony of Roots,” will be 3:30-5 p.m. Friday at the Integrated Science Center with a reception following in the atrium.
The Donning of the Kente Ceremony will follow in the evening from 5-7 p.m. in the Sunken Garden Tent. The event celebrates the personal and academic excellence of students of color.
As is tradition, the night before the university-wide graduation, all the seniors gather in the Wren Yard for a candle-lighting ceremony at 9:30 p.m. Each year, seniors select three speakers; one faculty member, one administrator and one fellow student who had a close relationship with the class.
The light from a Wren Candle is passed from classmate to classmate as they sing the alma mater and look forward to a day of celebration as they start their post-William and Mary journeys.
Want more information?
For a detailed look at William and Mary’s Commencement weekend schedule, including all departmental ceremonies, visit media.wm.edu. Information on parking for various events is at wm.edu/commencement/parking.
Martin can be reached at (757)-243-3685, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SaraRoseMartin.