For Seniors

Greetings to the members of the Class of 2019!  We look forward to helping you celebrate your graduation.

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.


Ivy Exercises:  Assemble in cap & gown in the Frosh Quad (Williams & Sage).

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

Baccalaureate:  Assemble in cap & gown, at the 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 the Library Quad.

President’s Reception:  A 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 did not have a cap and gown in September, please go to the Williams College Bookstore between Noon and 6 p.m.  Thursday May 30, Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1. Last-minute pickup for seniors who will not be on campus until the day of the ceremony is at 8:45 on Sunday 6/2.

    If you have questions about caps and gowns, please contact Veronica Bosley (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 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. We will return those collected for recycling.

  • For information and tickets for Baccalaureate and (weather-related) indoor Commencement go here.

  • – Saturday, 12:50 p.m. line-up for procession, 1 p.m. procession steps off, 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 Sandstrom 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 at the Faculty House, 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 will give the address.

    Seniors assemble in caps and gowns 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 procession is omitted and the Class assembles at Chapin Hall at 4:30 p.m. At 4:50 p.m. Dean Sandstrom 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 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 Sandstrom, 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 Library 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 Sandstrom 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 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.

  • Find advice on sun and rain protection and extreme weather plans here.

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

Jay Thoman

Jay Thoman
J. Hodge Markgraf Professor of Chemistry and College Marshal
Williams College
Department of Chemistry
Williamstown, MA 01267
Direct phone:  (413) 597-2280
Office of the College Marshal phone:  (413) 597-3334
e-mail:  [email protected]