Commencement 2017

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 9 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 12, from 4-8 p.m. and on Saturday, May 13, 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. New this year, if we implement the rain plan for Commencement, it will be held in the Robert A. Bristol ’31 Field House, and each student will be allotted up to eight (8) tickets for family and friends. Students will get these tickets on Wednesday, May 3, when they pick up their caps and gowns. If the weather is conducive for Commencement outdoors on the Hobart Quad, there will not be a limit on attendees and tickets will not be required.

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 and ask for the most current information regarding location 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 9.

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. 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, there are parking sites available and there will be transportation provided from the parking lot to seating if needed. If you have any 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/Blue Ray Videos of Commencement Exercises will be available through the online registration or IT Services. If you have questions or require assistance you may contact the IT Services Help Desk by phone at (315) 781-4357, or by email at The DVDs are completed and mailed in late-July.


Please click here for Parent & Family Commencement Registration.



Commencement 2017 will be streamed live on Sunday, May 14 starting at 10:30 a.m.


Commencement 2016
Commencement 2015
Commencement 2014
Commencement 2013
Commencement 2012
Commencement 2011
Commencement 2010
Commencement 2009
Commencement 2008



Hobart and William Smith Colleges,
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

Contact the Colleges


Offices and Resources
Campus Directory

make a gift

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.