Day of Ceremony
What will the ceremony look like this year?
UMW graduates from the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 will have the opportunity to take part in an in-person Commencement ceremony. In accordance with the Governor’s recent commencement, guidance update on page 54 of VA Executive Order 72, the University will host multiple socially distanced, reduced capacity ceremonies on the Campus Recreation Field adjacent to the Alvey Drive parking deck. These ceremonies will feature many traditional elements of a UMW Commencement, including a processional with students entering the field from Sunken Road.
Graduates or guests with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, a positive diagnostic test for the virus that causes COVID-19 in the prior ten days, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in their prior 14 days, are not permitted to attend or participate in the Commencement. All persons must wear a mask.
How am I assigned to a Commencement ceremony?
Students who RSVP to participate in Commencement will receive a text message inviting them to select a specific ceremony time and date (May 6-7 for the Class of 2020 and May 8-9 for the Class of 2021). Text messaging with graduating students will be the primary means of sharing additional follow-up information.
Is there a rehearsal for Commencement?
There will be no rehearsal for these ceremonies. Graduates should plan to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to the ceremony to line up.
Do I need to line up in a particular order?
No, graduates will line up as they arrive at the designated meeting place, not in degree or alphabetical order.
Will I cross the stage?
Yes, all graduating students cross the stage as their name is read to announce their graduation from the University of Mary Washington.
Will a professional photographer will take pictures of each graduate as they cross the stage?
Yes. In addition, graduates will be directed to an area on the field for a posed Commencement Portrait by Grad Images. Graduates will receive a free passport-sized digital proof via email within 1-3 days and via postal mail within 5-7 days following the ceremony.
After Commencement, orders may be placed either online at https://www.gradimages.com/universityofmarywashington or by phone at 1-800-261-2576.
Customer service inquiries may be directed by email or phone to the following: email@example.com, or 1-800-261-2576.
Guests may take photographs during the ceremony from their assigned seats.
What happens in the event of inclement weather?
Ceremonies will be held rain or shine. No umbrellas are allowed on the field. If weather conditions make holding a ceremony unsafe, it will not be rescheduled.
Where do graduates meet prior to the ceremony?
One hour prior to their ceremony, graduates may line up on the last block of Sunken Road near the entrance of the Campus Recreation Field, past Madison Street. Students may access by walking down Sunken Road (through traffic will be redirected) or by taking the sidewalk from the center of campus between the HCC and Arrington Hall.
What time should my guests arrive prior to the commencement ceremony?
Short term parking in the Alvey Parking Deck and Sunken Road parking lots will open for guests one hour prior (but no sooner than) the ceremony start time.
How long is the ceremony?
One hour. Plan an additional 30 minutes for guests to be dismissed row by row from the field and to exit from the parking deck.
How do I notify the reader the correct pronunciation of my name?
After you choose your commencement ceremony, you will be sent a series of communications via text message that will include instructions how to record your name to ensure the reader pronounces it correctly at the Commencement ceremony. Mr. Jon Reynolds from the UMW Theater Department will announce your name as your cross the stage at commencement. Students may also request a preferred name, different from the printed diploma name, for the ceremony.
Are there COVID-19 protocols which guests and graduates will be expected to adhere to?
Guests and graduates must adhere to all State and University COVID-19 guidelines including:
- Monitor: Check for any COVID-19 symptoms or a fever
- Mask: Wear a mask when on campus and at all times during the ceremony
- Distance: Maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from other ceremony attendees who are not in your family group
- Clean: Sanitizing stations will be provided on the field. Seats will be sanitized between Commencement ceremonies.
Ticketed seating on the field is designed with 10 feet of separation for social distancing as required by the March 31 updates to VA Executive Order 72. Through our ticketing system we will be able to abide by contact tracing regulations.
Where should I go after the ceremony?
Graduates will recess off the field to the parking deck. Guests will be released one row at a time to maintain social distancing. Graduates leaving the ceremony location with your guests must meet them at their vehicle. Guests should depart the parking deck immediately to provide parking for the next ceremony.
Where can I meet up with my family after the ceremony?
We recommend graduates and guests pre-determine a meeting place off campus to reconnect after the ceremony. There will not be an opportunity to take photos with guests on the field following the ceremony, both because of timing and the state’s restrictions related to commencements.
What should I bring to the Commencement Ceremony?
Everyone should bring a charged cell phone. Students will use it to show their QR code ticket in the lineup and as they cross the stage for their name to be announced. Guests must bring their QR code ticket to access parking and the seat assignment.
Can I bring food or beverage to the Commencement ceremony?
Per Virginia Executive Order 72 no food or beverages except water will be permitted or sold at the Commencement ceremony. Complementary water will be available.
Do graduates receive their diplomas at Commencement?
No, diplomas are mailed to graduates to the address that the student has provided to the Registrar’s Office.
Where can my loved ones watch the virtual ceremony?
The virtual ceremony will be linked to from the University of Mary Washington website homepage.
I have more than 4 guests. Can my other family members stand outside the official entrance of the Campus Recreation Field and watch?
No, this is a closed event. Only staff working the event will be allowed to stand outside the field during the ceremony.
Will there be photos taken of the graduates?
Yes, there will be a photographer to capture photos of the student as they cross the stage as well as a regalia portrait. Proofs from Grad Images will be sent to student email addresses following the event. Contact information for Grad Images will also be available on the UMW Commencement page following the event.
Are there restrooms located on the field?
Restrooms are located between the field and the parking deck.
Are guests allowed to bring dogs (other than service dogs) to graduation?
No, only official service dogs will be allowed on the field.
What is the appropriate attire for graduates?
To participate, graduates are required to wear a mask and the appropriate regalia.
Only cords officially recognized by the University are permitted.
Ceremonies are held outside, please dress comfortably and avoid heels that could get caught on the turf.
Students are permitted to decorate their caps.
Where do I purchase regalia?
Graduates can purchase regalia in-person at the UMW Bookstore. The option to order directly from the vendor online closed on April 14, 2021.
What is the appropriate attire for guests?
The ceremonies are held on a turf field and it may get warm, please dress comfortably.
High heels are a tripping hazard on the turf field and should be avoided.
Where should I park if I am a guest?
Ticketed guests will be directed to short term parking in the Alvey Parking Deck which is accessed from Rt. #1 heading north. All traffic from the parking deck and the adjacent lots will be one way, exiting on Sunken Road.
Where should I park if I am a student?
The Alvey parking deck and Sunken Road lots are reserved for guests only. Students are encouraged to park in the various parking lots across campus and walk to the lineup area.
The University will not be ticketing lots during commencement ceremonies unless a vehicle is inappropriately parked in spaces reserved for individuals with disabilities or blocking fire lanes.
Are tickets required?
Yes, tickets are required for all ceremony attendees.
How many guests can I invite to attend the ceremony?
Each graduating student will be allotted four guest tickets. Tickets can be reserved after the graduate signs up for their ceremony. Tickets will be specific to the ceremony the graduate is attending.
Can I request additional guest tickets?
No, each graduate may claim a maximum of four guest tickets and must identify their guests in advance to facilitate contact tracing if necessary.
Tickets are non-transferable. Every person attending must have a ticketed seat. A child on a lap is counted as a guest.
Who should students contact for accommodations for the in-person ceremony? How do I do that?
Please request accommodations through the Events and Conferencing Office. Eventsrsvp@umw.edu
Where is the ADA accessible parking located?
Those with official handicapped parking placard or license plate will be directed to accessible parking near the field.
Are the restrooms ADA compliant?
Yes, restrooms are ADA accessible.
Who should I contact if I require ASL interpretation services?
Please request accommodations through the Events and Conferencing Office. Eventsrsvp@umw.edu