Greetings to members of the Class of 2023!
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. Note: We ask that all our guests be fully vaccinated (boosters optional) before arriving on campus.
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 wear caps and gowns at Ivy Exercises, Baccalaureate, and Commencement. The College supplies, free of charge, one cap and one gown for each Senior.
Seniors and mid-cycle seniors may pick up regalia at the Williams Bookstore with your Williams ID during Senior Week. The bookstore is open from 10am-6pm Monday-Saturday that week. They will also be open from 8AM - 10AM on Commencement Sunday.
Cap and Gown is required for participation in Ivy Exercises, Baccalaureate, and Commencement. Seniors must show ID to get their cap and gown.
Students who wish to place an order for store pick-up can enter their order through the bookstore website. Once you’ve selected your regalia and are ready to check out, select Williams College Campus ID, then enter your seven-digit ID number without the W at the beginning. Select the radio button to agree to the terms and conditions and use the “Pay With This” and the charges will be applied to the Williams College Commencement account. In the comments field please enter your height. You will receive an order confirmation email and a secondary notification when your order is ready for pick-up at the store.
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.
For information and tickets for Baccalaureate go here. No other events require tickets.
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.
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 award diplomas, 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, receive your diploma with your left hand, and shake their hand with your right hand. Then turn and 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 Chapin Hall. Admission will be limited to ceremony participants (seniors, masters students, stage party, and faculty). The ceremony will be live-streamed into multiple campus venues 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 basement of Chapin Hall. In the event of rain, the President’s Reception takes place in and around the Paresky Center.
Find advice on sun and rain protection and extreme weather plans here.
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.
College Marshal and William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
Williamstown, MA 01267