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Undergraduate Commencement: December 16, 2023

General Information for Undergraduate Degree Recipients

Congratulations on earning your degree. We want your commencement to be a dignified and memorable event that you will remember with pride and joy. To help accomplish this, please familiarize yourself with these instructions as there is no rehearsal.

Inclement Weather and Hotline

In case of inclement weather, information about commencement will be available on Hotline (717-477-1200). Hotline will be updated as needed. Final information will be available by 7:00 a.m. December 16. Hotline, the university’s website, and the university’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, are the official sources of information about commencement.

Family and Guest Information

  • Tickets: No tickets are required for guests to attend the ceremony. Seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Parking: Shippensburg University Police and directional signs will direct your family and guests to parking areas.
  • Guest admission: Doors to Heiges Field House open at 9:00 a.m. for guests. Please ask your guests arrive and be seated by 10:30 a.m. Light refreshments will be available. The academic procession begins promptly at 11:00 a.m.; the ceremony ends at approximately 1:00 p.m.
  • Guests with special needs: You should make arrangements for any of your guests with special needs by emailing by December 8. The email should include the guest’s name and the name of one person who will sit with them. An interpreter (signer) will be at the ceremony.
  • Photographs: Family and guests are not permitted to approach the stage to photograph graduates. They are encouraged to use the area to the right of the graduates and stage for photos. A roster with your name and address will be sent to GradImages. Their photographer will photograph you as you receive congratulations from President Patterson. The firm will contact you concerning your interest in purchasing photos. The firm’s website is


  • Cap and gown: Academic robes are required for everyone participating in the academic procession and program. Members of the S.U. ROTC Detachment who participate in commissioning ceremonies may wear appropriate military uniforms.  Qualifying students may wear graduation cords. More than one graduation cord may be worn at the same time. Students qualifying academically may wear a medallion, which signifies this achievement.  Members of organizations based on academic merit are eligible to wear graduation stoles representing such honor groups or societies. Members of organizations based on non-academic recognition are eligible to wear graduation stoles with the approval of the Dean of Students.  Please contact the Dean of Students with any questions you may have regarding non-academic stoles [Stole Request Form]. A GRADUATING STUDENT MAY WEAR ONLY ONE STOLE OF THEIR CHOOSING. THE STUDENT WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COST OF ANY SUCH REGALIA.  Inappropriate decorations on caps and gowns must be removed prior to the ceremony.
    View additional information regarding cords, medallions and stoles
  • Alcohol: Possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. Beverages will be confiscated and violators will be evicted from the facility.  Graduates who appear intoxicated will not be permitted to participate. 

Check-In, Robing and Assembly

  • Special assistance: Graduates who need special assistance to participate in the ceremony are asked to send an email to by Friday, December 8.
  • Check-in: Report to the check-in desk in the main lobby of Heiges Field House before 10:00 a.m. and pick up your name card. This card assigns you to your place in the procession and a seat based on your college. During the ceremony you will hand the card to the announcer, who will read your name.
  • Assembly/robing: Assigned assembly and robing areas will be on the second floor of Heiges Field House.
  • Restrooms: Women use the restroom located in the locker room in the basement. Men use the restroom on the second floor of the Field House.
  • Valuables: You are responsible for your valuables; leave them at home or with a relative or friend. The University is not responsible for lost, stolen, or misplaced items.
  • Tassels: Position your tassel on the right side of your mortarboard. You will be instructed to shift it to the left side during the ceremony.


  • Line-up: Follow the instructions of the class marshals, who will assist you in lining up according to the letter and the number on your name card. Your position is alphabetical by college.
  • 10:40 a.m.: Class marshals will lead the columns down the stairs to the lobby. The columns will move in different directions at varying speeds when you enter the arena. Please pay careful attention to your proper position and spacing.
  • 11:00 a.m.: The mace bearer will lead the procession into the arena followed by members of the 50-year class, graduates, faculty, academic and administrative leaders, and the platform party.
  • Seating: The class marshals will lead you into the arena and direct you to your seats. Move into your row and fill all seats. Please be seated as soon as you enter the row. Gentlemen, remove your mortarboards during the national anthem, invocation, alma mater, and benediction.

Conferring of Degrees

At a certain point in the ceremony, you will be asked to stand and be presented to President Patterson who will confer your degree. When the President finishes saying “. . .with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities pertaining thereto,” he will instruct you to move your tassel from the right side to the left side of your mortarboard. You then will be asked to sit and await instructions from the class marshals.

Awarding of Degrees:On cue from the class marshal, rise and move into the aisle. When released by the class marshal, move to the announcer and present your name card. Next, move to the Dean to receive your diploma cover and then to President Patterson, where a handshake is extended, and a photograph taken. Return to your seat and sit down immediately. Please follow the directions of the class marshals carefully.

Graduates are to remain in their seats for the entire program.


Following the benediction, the platform party, dignitaries, and faculty will leave the arena in the recessional. After they have cleared the aisle, the class marshals will release you without a recessional. This ends the ceremony.


Should you have any questions concerning participation in the ceremony, please email