For Seniors

Greetings to members of the Class of 2024 and mid-cycle Seniors!

Here’s a quick summary of where you need to be when, followed by detailed information that will be useful to you and your family. Please note that this information is subject to change, and updated information will be added closer to Commencement Weekend. We strongly recommend our guests be fully vaccinated.

Senior Class Election Results


Saturday – Class Day

 12:50 p.m.    Assemble for Ivy Exercises in cap & gown in the Frosh Quad (Williams & Sage)

1 p.m. procession to the Williams Quad

1:10 p.m. Ivy Exercises

4:30 p.m.    Assemble for Baccalaureate in cap & gown in the Frosh Quad

4:45 p.m. procession to Chapin Hall

5:00 p.m. Baccalaureate

Sunday – Commencement

9:00 a.m. Assemble for Commencement in cap & gown in Frosh Quad (Williams & Sage). Line up alphabetically.

9:30 a.m. procession to Williams Quad

10:00 a.m. Ceremony

12:15 p.m. President’s Reception:  A lunch buffet for everybody on Chapin Lawn.


  • Seniors traditionally wear caps and gowns at Ivy Exercises, Baccalaureate, and Commencement.  The college supplies, free of charge, caps and gowns for all seniors receiving financial aid. Students not receiving aid will be charged $25 (+tax) to their term bill.

    Seniors and mid-cycle seniors may pick up regalia at the Williams Bookstore with your Williams ID 11am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday of Senior Week. They will also be open from 8AM - 9AM on Commencement Sunday.

    Students who wish to place an order for store pick-up can enter their order through the bookstore website May 1-15. Please note that there will be plenty of robes available, however pre-ordering will make the pick-up run much more quickly, so you are encouraged to do this. Ceremony participants can use their student ID to charge regalia to their term bill. The cost is $25. (Students receiving financial aid will be credited via EphPay for their regalia.) At checkout, choose “store pickup” and check the radio button for “Williams College Campus ID”. Select the Cap and Gown account and enter your student ID number (without the “W”) to complete the transaction. (Where it says,“Enter your degree”, you can put “Bachelor of Arts”.) You will get an email confirming your order and another notification when it’s ready to pick up. You can then go to The Williams Bookstore during one of the times listed (Thursday - Sunday) to pick up your cap and gown.

    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 caps and gowns are made from 100% post consumer plastic bottles. They are softer to the touch than traditional polyester, wrinkle resistant, and lightweight. They are also 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.

  • Tickets are not required for Ivy Exercises, outdoor Commencement, or the President’s Reception. 

    Weather permitting, Commencement will be held outdoors in the Williams Quad and no tickets will be required. We do ask that you limit the number of guests in the venue to six. We have additional seating in Chapin Hall where we will simulcast the event. No tickets required.

    Tickets for indoor Commencement: In the event of extreme or dangerous weather, the ceremony will be held in the Lansing Chapman Ice Rink. Each senior will automatically receive four guest tickets for the ice rink in their Paresky mailbox during Senior Week if the weekend weather appears questionable. We cannot accommodate requests for additional tickets. Additional seating will be available in the ’62 Center (new location) where the ceremony will be broadcast on a large screen. Tickets are not required for seating in the ’62 Center. We favor an outdoor ceremony even under threatening skies and/or light rain. Chapel bells will toll at 8:30am Sunday morning to signal indoor Commencement. Graduates and guests will also be notified by email.

    Baccalaureate is optional, but well-attended. The service’s principal focus is on seniors as a group.  Members of the senior class do not need tickets to attend this event. Due to the limited seating capacity of Chapin Hall, we are unable to seat all of your guests in Chapin. Each senior may request up to two guest tickets for this event in April, while supplies last.  Tickets will be placed in your Paresky mailbox during Senior Week. We invite guests without tickets to view the livestream in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall. Tickets are not required for the livestream.

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

    Seniors assemble in cap and gown on the Frosh Quad.  Led by the Class Marshals and by the Class Artist carrying the class banner, the Seniors march briskly to the Commencement amphitheater in the Williams Quad. Ivy Exercises is an informal celebration of the class and its achievements. The class officers preside. The Class Gardener plants the ivy, Olmsted Award recipients are recognized, the Class Poet presents a poem, the Class Historian speaks, the Class Musician performs, the Dean of the College announces over 100 prizes, and everybody sings “The Mountains.”  Then the Class Bell Ringer rings the bells and everybody walks 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 on the MainStage, '62 Center for Theatre and Dance.

  • Saturday, 4:30 p.m. line-up for procession in the Frosh Quad, 4:45 p.m. procession steps off, 5:00 p.m. ceremony begins in Chapin Hall.

    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 gives the Baccalaureate Address.

    Seniors assemble in cap and gown to begin the procession. 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 class assembles in the basement of Chapin Hall at 4:30 p.m. At 4:50 p.m. the Dean of the College and the marshals will lead the class into the venue.

    Tickets for Baccalaureate: Members of the senior class do not need tickets to attend this event. Due to the limited seating capacity of Chapin Hall, we are unable to seat all of your guests in Chapin. Each senior may request up to two guest tickets online in April. We will distribute guest tickets for Chapin Hall while the supply lasts.  We will also simulcast the Baccalaureate ceremony into Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall. No tickets are necessary for the simulcast.

  • Sunday, 9:00 a.m. line up for procession, 9:30 a.m. processional steps off, 10:00 a.m. ceremony begins.

    The Senior Class and Mid-Cycle Seniors assemble in cap and gown 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 the Dean of the College, as the class has to line up in perfect alphabetical order.  At Commencement, the President awards diplomas 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 have alphabetical lists and tell you where to stand.  The A’s lead the front of the right column facing forward; the middle of the alphabet lines up at the front of the left column facing forward.  The only exceptions to the alphabetical order are the Valedictorian, the Phi Beta Kappa Speaker, and the Class Speaker, who are at the front of the left column, and the Class Marshals, who march at the front and the rear.  To ensure the proper lineup, please be there at 9 a.m.  The procession steps off precisely at 9:30 a.m.

    On arrival at the amphitheater in the Library Quad, the Marshals show you to your seats.  Please remain standing through the Invocation.  Once the President is seated you may sit down and remove your cap.

    During the ceremony, the Class Speaker, the Phi Beta Kappa Speaker, and the Valedictorian give 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 confer degrees, the Class Marshals lead the Seniors to the stage, via the left (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 the Dean of the College reads your name.  When you hear your name, cross to the center of the stage, face the President, shake their hand, turn to leave the stage by the right (south) stairs, return to your seat via the center aisle.  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 stands, 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!!! You are welcome to toss your cap in the air before being seated.

    Marching out of the amphitheater, do not break ranks until reaching the far end of Chapin Hall Drive. You may then proceed to Chapin lawn for the President’s Reception.

    In the event of extreme or dangerous weather, we will move the Commencement ceremony to the Lansing Chapman Ice Rink. Guest seating is limited. The ceremony will be live-streamed into Chandler Gym and will be available for viewing off campus as well.

    The signal for an indoor Commencement is a slow, steady tolling of the Chapel bells at 8:30 a.m.  Assemble at 9:00 a.m. in the Ice Rink. In the event of rain, the President’s Reception takes place in Chandler Gym.

  • The weather during Commencement weekend is unpredictable.  We hope that it will be glorious and sunny, so you may want sunglasses, a hat and a water bottle for Ivy Exercises and Commencement.  We have water dispensers and paper cups at these events, but a water bottle might be more convenient. If the forecast calls for rain, dress appropriately! Ivy Exercises and Commencement move indoors only in the event of extreme weather.

Please contact the Commencement Office (413-597-2347) if you have questions or concerns.  We hope that your Commencement weekend will be happy and memorable.

Lee Park

Lee Park
College Marshal and William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
Williams College
Williamstown, MA 01267