Senior week 2013


Greetings!  We look forward to helping you celebrate your graduation with your friends and family.  Please read this message and save it as it contains detailed instructions you will need for Commencement weekend.

A complete calendar of events and more are on the web at

Here’s a quick summary of where you need to be when.

Pick up caps & gowns and tickets:

Senior Resource Fair.  Seniors measured in the fall may pick up caps, gowns, & tickets.
Wednesday, May 29, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Paresky Center.

Paresky Center Great Hall.  All Seniors may pick up caps, gowns, and tickets.
Thursday, May 30, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Friday, May 31, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 1, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 2, 7:30 – 8:45 a.m.  Last minute pickup!

Ivy Exercises:  Assemble in cap & gown on Hoxsey Street

Saturday, June 1, 12:50 p.m.  Line up for procession to Science Quad

Baccalaureate:  Assemble in cap & gown on Main St. sidewalk in front of Faculty House.

Saturday, June 1, 4:30 p.m.  Line up for procession to Chapin Hall.

Commencement:  Assemble in cap & gown in Frosh Quad (Williams & Sage).

Sunday, June 2, 9:00 a.m.  Line up alphabetically for procession to Science Quad.

President’s Reception:  A big lunch buffet for everybody on Chapin Hall Lawn.

Sunday, June 2, immediately after Commencement (about 12:15 p.m.).



Seniors wear caps and gowns at Ivy Exercises, Baccalaureate, and Commencement.  The College supplies, free of charge, one cap and one gown for each Senior.  If you had a cap and gown for Convocation in September and returned it to us, we have them waiting for you to pick up.  If you did not have a cap and gown in September, please come on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday to be measured.

If you have questions about caps and gowns, please contact Erica Maker (413.597.3539)

The cap is worn so the board is parallel to the ground, not perched on the back of your head.  The tassel belongs on the right side of the cap on all occasions until you ascend the stage to receive your diploma at Commencement.  The gowns are not always colorfast.  Since Ivy Exercises and Commencement are held outdoors even in a light rain, you may want to bring rain gear if the weather looks threatening.  You may also want to consider wearing something that you would not mind getting stained if the dye runs from your robe.

The cap and gown are yours to keep.  If you decide that you do not want them, we will have some specially marked barrels for them on Chapin Hall Lawn at the President’s Reception.



You will receive your tickets when you pick up your cap and gown.  You do not need a ticket for yourself for Ivy Exercises, Baccalaureate, or Commencement.  No guest tickets are required for Ivy Exercises or for outdoor Commencement.

Each Senior is entitled to up to four guest tickets for indoor Commencement in the event of heavy rain.  You will have the opportunity to reserve tickets online at the site below for the Conversation with an Honorary Degree Recipient and for Baccalaureate.  You would also pick these up with your cap and gown.



Class Marshals will get you lined up and will lead the processions for Ivy Exercises, Baccalaureate, and Commencement.


— Saturday, 12:50 p.m. line-up for procession, 1:10 p.m. ceremony begins.

Seniors assemble in caps and gowns on the sidewalk on the east side of Hoxsey Street, in two columns facing north.  Led by the Class Marshals and by the Class Artist carrying the new class banner, the Seniors march briskly to the Commencement amphitheater in the Science Quad.  Ivy Exercises is an informal celebration of the Class and its achievements.  The Class Officers preside.  The Class Gardener will plant the ivy, the Class Poet will present a poem, the Class Historian will speak, the Class Musician will perform, Dean Sarah Bolton will announce over 100 prizes, and everybody will sing “The Mountains.”  Then the Class Bell Ringer will ring the bells and everybody will walk over to Thompson Chapel to see the Class Presidents drop a watch from the tower.  Legend has it that if the watch breaks, your class will have good luck!

In case of heavy rain, Ivy Exercises are held in Lansing-Chapman Ice Rink.  Students will assemble at 12:50 p.m. in the Towne Field House and process into the hockey rink.


— Saturday, 4:30 p.m. line-up for procession, 5:00 p.m. ceremony begins.

Baccalaureate is a service of gratitude and remembrance, using the languages of many religions to celebrate the transformation of learning into wisdom.  An honorary degree recipient will give the address.

Seniors assemble in caps and gowns along the north sidewalk of Main Street in front of the Faculty House/Alumni Center, in two columns facing east.  The Senior members of the choir march at the front of each column.  The procession walks briskly past the President’s House, turns left onto Chapin Hall Drive, and heads into Chapin Hall.  The Class Marshals will show you your seats.  Please remain standing through the Invocation and the first hymn.  Then take your seats and remove your caps.  At the conclusion of the service the organ recessional begins and the Class rises.  Please put your cap on and follow the Class Marshals out of the hall.

In case of rain, the procession past the President’s House is omitted and the Class assembles at 4:30 p.m. in the basement of Chapin Hall.  Please enter by the lower lobby of the Bernhard Music Center, turn right into the Music Department corridor, and follow the directions of the ushers and your Class Marshals.  At 4:50 p.m. Dean Bolton and the marshals will lead the class up the stairs into the main hall.


— Sunday, 9:00 a.m. line-up for procession, 10:00 a.m. ceremony begins.

The Senior Class assembles in caps and gowns in the driveway around the Frosh Quad, forming two columns with the head of the procession in the northeast corner of the Quad.  Please pay careful attention to the Class Marshals and to Dean Bolton, as the Class has to line up in perfect alphabetical order.  At Commencement the diplomas are awarded alphabetically by last name, so it is essential that each Senior be in the correct place in the procession and be seated in the proper order.  The Marshals and the Dean will have alphabetical lists and will tell you who you should be next to.  The A’s will be at the front of the right column facing forward and the middle of the alphabet will start near the front of the left column.  The only exceptions to the alphabetical order will be the Valedictorian, the Phi Beta Kappa Speaker, and the Class Speaker who will be at the front of the left column, and the Class Marshals, who will march at the front and the rear.  To insure the proper line-up, please be there at 9:00 a.m.  The procession steps off precisely at 9:30 a.m.

On arrival at the amphitheater in the Science Quad, the Marshals will show you your seats.  Please remain standing until the President is seated.  Once the President is seated you may sit down and remove your cap.

Commencement will begin.  After some time, the Class Speaker, the Phi Beta Kappa Speaker, and the Valedictorian give their speeches.  When the Valedictorian says “Fellow Classmates…,” put on your cap and stand until the end of the speech.  Afterwards you may sit down and remove your cap.

When it is time to award diplomas, the Class Marshals will lead the Seniors to the stage, via the left hand (north) stairs.  While climbing the stairs, move the tassel on your cap from right to left.  (This procedure allows your face, rather than your tassel, to be photographed.)  On reaching the top of the stairs, stand and wait until Dean Bolton reads your name.  When you hear your name, cross to the center of the stage, face the President, receive your diploma with your left hand, and shake his hand with your right hand.  Then turn and leave the stage by the right (south) stairs, return to your seat via the center aisle, and sit down.  Do not applaud while the Dean reads the names.  When the last Class Marshal has returned to his/her place, the Dean says:

“Will all members of the Senior Class please stand for the conferring of the degree.”

When the Class has stood, the President says:

“By virtue of the authority delegated to me, I confer upon you, who have completed the requirements, the degree of Bachelor of Arts.  I welcome you to its privileges and remind you of its responsibilities.  Congratulations!”

Great applause!!!  Then the Class sits down.

After marching out of the amphitheater, the Class Marshals will lead the Seniors around West College and across Main Street to Chapin Hall lawn for the President’s Reception.  Do not break ranks until reaching the far end of Chapin Hall lawn.

In case of heavy rain, Commencement exercises are held in the Lansing-Chapman Ice Rink.  The signal for an indoor Commencement is a slow, steady tolling of the Chapel bells at 9:00 a.m.  There is no outdoor procession when Commencement is moved indoors.  Assemble at 9:00 a.m. in the Herbert Towne Field House, as instructed by the Class Marshals.  The head of the line is to the north (toward the Ice Rink).  The academic procession proceeds from the Field House to the Rink through the covered passage.  In the event of rain, the President’s Reception takes place in and around Paresky.



The weather during Commencement weekend is unpredictable.  We hope that it will be glorious and sunny, so you may want sunglasses and a water bottle for Ivy Exercises and for Commencement.  Your parents and other guests may want sunglasses, a sun hat, and a water bottle.  We will have water dispensers and paper cups at these events, but a water bottle might be more convenient.If the weather threatens rain, a raincoat and/or an umbrella would be in order.  We will move Ivy Exercises or Commencement indoors only in the event of heavy rain.

Please let Carrie Greene ([email protected]) or me know if you have questions or concerns.  We hope that your Commencement weekend will be happy and memorable.

Jeff Strait

Jefferson Strait
Professor of Physics & College Marshal
Williams College
Department of Physics
Williamstown, MA 01267
Direct phone:  (413) 597-2008
Office of the College Marshal phone:  (413) 597-2347
e-mail:  [email protected]
Physics web:
Commencement web: