Commencement 2019

Dear Families of the Class of 2019,

As the school year begins, many of you are looking forward to celebrating your senior’s college graduation in June. It is my pleasure to invite you to attend the 230th Commencement at Williams College. My colleagues and I congratulate you on your senior’s accomplishments.
Over the coming months we will work out the details of Commencement Weekend 2019. In order to help you plan ahead, here are the dates and times of the four major events:

Ivy Exercises, Saturday, June 1, 1:10 p.m.
Baccalaureate, Saturday, June 1, 5:00 p.m.
Commencement, Sunday, June 2, 10:00 a.m.
President’s Reception, Sunday, June 2, following the ceremony (~12:15 p.m.)

An overview of the weekend follows. You will receive a more detailed calendar in March. As events develop, we will post updated information at

If you have questions please do not hesitate to contact us by email ([email protected]) or by phone (413-597-3539).

We look forward to seeing you at Commencement.


Jay Thoman
J. Hodge Markgraf Professor of Chemistry
College Marshal  
Williams College Commencement Weekend
Saturday and Sunday, June 1 & 2, 2019
Ivy Exercises, Saturday, 1:10–2:40 p.m. Ivy Exercises, held outdoors on the Library Quad (by Stetson Hall), is an informal event presented by the Officers of the Senior Class. Members of the Class plant ivy, read the Class Poem and the Class History, perform music, and sing the College Song. The Dean of the College announces over 100 student awards. The event ends with the century-old tradition of dropping a watch from the top of Thompson Memorial Chapel. If the watch breaks, the Class will have good luck! Tickets are not required.

Baccalaureate, Saturday, 5:00–6:15 p.m. Baccalaureate is a service of gratitude and remembrance, using the languages of many religions to celebrate the transformation of learning into wisdom. Seniors process in cap and gown to Chapin Hall. The service’s principal focus is on seniors as a group and seating is limited. Tickets are required (see below). Note: If you plan on dining out following the ceremony, we recommend making reservations for after 6:30 p.m.

Outdoor Commencement, Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.  This is the main event! Commencement is held outdoors on the Library Quad, weather permitting. The venue opens at 8:00 a.m. We begin with a formal academic procession at 9:30 a.m. During the ceremony, three members of the Senior Class give brief speeches, honorary degrees are awarded, one of the honorary degree recipients gives the Commencement Address and President Mandel awards each student their diploma. The High Sheriff of Berkshire County brings the ceremony to a close and leads a formal academic recessional. Please plan to occupy only six seats per graduate in the Library Quad, our outdoor venue. If additional guests plan to attend, we invite them sit in Chapin Hall, immediately adjacent to the Library Quad, where the ceremony will be live-streamed. Chapin Hall is fully air-conditioned, offers comfortable seating, and is fully accessible. Tickets are not required for outdoor Commencement or the livestream venue.

Indoor Commencement:  In the event of severe weather, Commencement will be moved to the Lansing Chapman Rink and tickets will be required. Unlimited overflow seating will be available in Chandler Gymnasium and other venues, where the ceremony will be livestreamed on a large screen. Tickets are not required for the livestream.

President’s Reception, immediately following Commencement on Sunday. President Mandel invites the graduates and their guests to a buffet lunch on Chapin Lawn. Tickets are not required.

Tickets: All of the official events of Commencement weekend are free of charge. As noted above, tickets are not required for Ivy Exercises, outdoor Commencement, or the President’s Reception. Each senior will automatically receive four guest tickets for indoor Commencement in the event we need to move to the Lansing Chapman Ice Rink. Space is limited and we cannot offer more than the allotted tickets. Unlimited overflow seating will be available in Chandler Gymnasium and other venues, where the ceremony will be livestreamed on a large screen. Tickets are not required for the livestream.

For Baccalaureate, each senior can request up to two guest tickets in May on a first come, first served basis. We invite guests without tickets to view the livestream at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance. Tickets are not required for the livestream.

Please note: The livestream of Baccalaureate and Commencement will be available worldwide for families and friends who are unable to attend.

General Information
For family members and friends who are unable to attend Commencement Weekend events, Williams College will livestream Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies. Visit on the event days for the link. The following week, we will also post video segments of the ceremonies.

Accommodations: A wide range of lodging options in the Williamstown area can be found here. Seniors on financial aid may request up to four beds in Mission Park for their families on Friday and Saturday nights of Commencement Weekend. The charge is $20 per bed (nonrefundable) for the entire weekend. Invitations to reserve campus housing will be sent to seniors in early March.

Caps and Gowns: The College provides Greenweaver caps and gowns (made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottles) at no charge to students. Seniors may pick them up Wednesday, May 30 through Sunday, June 2 at The Williams Bookstore.

Accessibility:  Every effort is made to anticipate the needs of all our guests who will be gathering for this occasion. The online Williams Commencement map (available in March) includes information about accessible parking. Please contact us if you have any specific accessibility needs while on campus. Although we cannot provide wheelchairs, we encourage you to contact Surgimed at least one week in advance if you need such services. (Surgimed, 109 Eagle Street, North Adams, MA, 413-663-8655)

Pictures: During the Commencement ceremony, a professional photographer will take pictures of each graduate receiving their diploma. You may order photographs

Rain Plan:  Every effort is made to hold Ivy Exercises and Commencement outdoors. In the event of severe weather, Ivy Exercises and Commencement will be moved inside to the Lansing Chapman Rink. Guests should come prepared for light to moderate rain, as ceremonies will be held outdoors unless the weather is severe.

Yearbooks:  The Gulielmensian will contact families and students about ordering yearbooks.

Contact Information: Email: [email protected]
Phone: 413-597-3539