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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Questions for guests attending Commencement


The Baccalaureate service is an interfaith morning worship service held in celebration of this year’s graduates, and typically features a guest speaker. Many graduates are involved in the service as readers and musicians, and the service is open to all in the campus community. No tickets are required for this event that is held in Orr Auditorium.

The Commencement ceremony is what is informally known as the graduation ceremony. It is the culminating event in your Westminster career as you walk across Weisel Senior Terrace or Orr stage as your degree is conferred. The ceremony is open to all in the campus community, although the number of guests for each graduate will be limited when the ceremony is held inside Orr Auditorium.

The number of tickets each graduate receives will be announced in late March, after the graduation application due date has passed. This number will be updated on the Info for Guests section of the Commencement webpage. Remember that tickets are only required when the ceremony is held inside Orr Auditorium. Even if Commencement is announced for outside, guests should still bring their tickets in the event that dangerous weather arises unexpectedly.

Tickets will be mailed to the home address in the student’s record prior to the ceremony. If a student’s home address has changed recently, the student should contact Student Affairs to have it updated.

Unfortunately, replacement or additional tickets are not available. Guests without tickets will not be admitted inside Orr Auditorium. Guests without tickets can view a livestream feed of the ceremony from rooms on campus or from home through the College’s website. Remember that tickets are only required when the ceremony is held inside Orr Auditorium.

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer additional tickets for larger families; each graduate receives the same number of tickets. Guests without tickets can view a livestream feed of the ceremony from rooms on campus or from home through the College’s website.

The Vice President for Academic Affairs will make a final decision on the location of Commencement by the Thursday afternoon before Commencement. Families should check official Westminster social media or the Commencement website for the most current information.

Though every attempt is made to hold Commencement outside Old Main, the safety of Westminster graduates, employees, and guests is our first priority. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation if Commencement must be held inside Orr Auditorium because of inclement weather or other circumstances.

The length of our Commencement ceremony will depend on the number of graduates, but typically lasts about two hours.

Please arrive at least 30-60 minutes before Commencement begins to allow time for parking, shuttling to the venue, and finding your seat. If you are traveling to campus with your graduate, they will need to be in their assembly area by noon. Whether inside or outside, seating for Commencement is “first-come-first served.”

If you arrive after 1:00 p.m., your ticket no longer guarantees you a seat inside Orr Auditorium. You may, however, watch the ceremony from one of our livestream spaces.

Your ticket should guarantee you a seat inside Orr Auditorium until 1:00 p.m. At that time, ushers will allow un-ticketed guests in to take any open seats. If we run out of seats, additional guests will be directed to one of our nearby viewing rooms to watch a livestream of the ceremony.

The College will provide a picnic lunch for all graduates, and guests are welcome to pre-purchase a ticket if they would like to join their graduate for lunch. Other campus dining facilities will be closed on Commencement, but snacks may be purchased from the Campus Store and vending machines. Water stations will be placed near the event venues.

The Campus Store, which includes our bookstore and gift shop, is located on the first floor of the McKelvey Campus Center.

Signs inside and outside of Old Main, McKelvey Campus Center, and Patterson Hall will direct you to the closest restroom.

Medical personnel will be on campus to assist with any medical emergencies that may arise on Commencement day.

Accessible seating inside Orr Auditorium is limited and first come, first serve. If we run out of accessible seats, guests unable to occupy a regular seat will be directed to an alternate space on campus to view a livestream of the event. Guests requiring accessible seating inside Orr must have a ticket for entry.

Public Safety Officers will be stationed in our accessible parking areas and will be able to provide assistance if there are any issues or if we run out of spaces. Please consider using our drop-off spots or utilizing the shuttle service from further lots, if possible.

The Westminster Cable Network (WCN) will telecast the ceremony live over Armstrong (Channel 72, New Wilmington; Channel 204, Grove City) and on Comcast (Channel 183, New Castle) Cable systems. The ceremony will also be streamed live online at WCNLive.com and will be archived for on-demand viewing.

 

General questions for students preparing to graduate


Yes! Below is a checklist of items you must do in order to graduate.

  • Submit a graduation application on my.Westminster.
  • Receive the Registrar’s approval of your graduation application in my.Westminster.
  • Purchase your cap and gown from the Campus Store.
  • Pick up/order any additional regalia items if involved in clubs/organizations/honors.
  • Attend Commencement rehearsal, the date and time of which will be announced by the Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Graduates are expected to participate in the Commencement ceremony. If you are unable to do so, you must contact the Office of Academic Affairs by emailing Kim Winfield, Academic Events Coordinator, at winfieka@westminster.edu. Attendance at the interfaith Baccalaureate service is optional, but encouraged.

The Baccalaureate service is an interfaith morning worship service held in celebration of this year’s graduates, and typically features a guest speaker. Many graduates are involved in the service as readers and musicians, and the service is open to all in the campus community. No tickets are required for this event that is held in Orr Auditorium.

The Commencement ceremony is what is informally known as the graduation ceremony. It is the culminating event in your Westminster career as you walk across Weisel Senior Terrace or Orr stage as your degree is conferred. The ceremony is open to all in the campus community, although the number of guests for each graduate will be limited when the ceremony is held inside Orr Auditorium.

Commencement rehearsal is your opportunity to practice what you will during the Commencement ceremony. You will receive your assigned seat in the assembly area, have the opportunity to ask questions, and practice the procession from the assembly area to the ceremony location.

All undergraduate students are expected to attend unless they have a final exam/work/internship/ or clinical experience that conflicts with rehearsal time. If you are unable to attend, please email Kim Winfield, Academic Events Coordinator, at winfieka@westminster.edu. Graduate students are not required to attend.

The length of our Commencement ceremony will depend on the number of graduates, but typically lasts for two hours.

The Vice President for Academic Affairs will make the final decision on the location of Commencement by the Thursday afternoon before Commencement. Graduates should check their Westminster email, official Westminster social media, or the Commencement website for the most up-to-date information.

Though every attempt is made to hold Commencement outside Old Main, the safety of Westminster graduates, employees, and guests is our first priority. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation if Commencement must be held inside Orr Auditorium because of inclement weather or other circumstances.

 

Questions about academic regalia (i.e. caps, gowns, cords)


Yes, all Baccalaureate and Commencement participants must wear formal academic regalia that is available in the Campus Store. Students may also wear academic symbols of honor, including College Latin honors, All-College honors, Academic and All-College honorary societies, and student membership on the Board of Trustees.

Street clothes worn under the academic gown should be in keeping with the formality of the occasion. Recreational clothing and footwear (e.g., jeans, sweatpants, tennis shoes, etc.) are not appropriate attire. Please wear comfortable shoes that also allow you to walk safely across Senior Terrace or the Orr Stage (including stairs).

Caps and gowns will be available for purchase beginning in late March/early April from The Campus Store, and will also available on their website. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Regalia will be available for purchase through the morning of Commencement Day.

If you purchase your cap and gown in person from the campus store, you can take it with you the same day. Online orders generally arrive from UPS within one week. There is an additional shipping charge for online orders.

No, academic regalia is not returnable.

No, bachelor’s degree candidates will receive a navy-blue mortarboard cap, navy and white tassel, and navy-blue gown with long open sleeves. Master’s degree candidates will receive a black mortarboard cap, navy and white tassel, academic hood in the color of their degree program, and black gown with wing-style sleeves.

The Campus Store staff will assist you in selecting the correct size gown based on your height.

Graduates should not alter their regalia, including caps. But we are realistic and understand that students often want to decorate their caps. Any decorations or messages added to a cap must not be offensive or inappropriate.

Cords for Latin honors (Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude) will be distributed by the Registrar’s Office prior to Commencement Day. The Registrar’s Office will notify graduates of the distribution date via email.

Those graduating from the Honors Program will receive their medallions at the Honors Convocation in late April. For information on the distribution of other cords and honors, please contact the advisor of the organization.

 

Questions about diplomas and academic records


You must submit a graduation application on my.Westminster. Once the Registrar approves your application, you may proceed with your other graduation preparations.

On the Academics page of my.Westminster, click on Degree Information. The status of your graduation application will be listed under Student Information. Graduation applications are reviewed in the order they are received.

Before you can receive your diploma, the Registrar must verify that you have completed all the requirements of your degree. Diplomas will be mailed to your address of record after this verification has been completed. When you walk across Senior Terrace or the Orr stage, you will receive your Westminster diploma cover.

When you submit your application for graduation, you will be asked to specify a Diploma Name, which should be a reasonable variation of your Campus Name. If you do not specify a Diploma Name, your Legal Name will be used.

 College Naming Policy

We print your full Campus Name in the Commencement program. The Campus Name is the same as your Legal Name, unless you have requested a specific campus name with Student Affairs.

 College Naming Policy

The Vice President for Academic Affairs will read your full name as it appears in the Commencement program when it is your time to cross Senior Terrace or the Orr stage.

If you have any questions about how your name will appear in the program or be announced, please contact Kim Winfield, Academic Events Coordinator, at winfieka@westminster.edu.

To see if you qualify to graduate with Latin honors, please see the Latin honors section of the College Catalog. For August and December graduates, Latin honors are based on final career GPA. For May graduates, Latin honors that appear in the Commencement program are based on career GPA through the previous fall semester. Please note that Latin honors status may change following review of your spring semester final grades. Latin honors are recorded on the final transcript.

A provisional graduate is one who has nearly completed their degree requirements, but is lacking no more than 12 credit hours. If graduation is possible within one additional semester, a student may graduate provisionally and participate in Commencement exercises. You will not, however, receive your diploma until all requirements are met. Provisional graduates participate in only one Commencement ceremony.

 Additional information on Provisional Graduation

 

Commencement day questions for graduates


Graduates need to be in the assembly area by noon, so make sure to allow time for parking and walking to Orr Auditorium or Beeghly Theater.

Students participating in the Baccalaureate service should arrive by 9:30 a.m.

Once you arrive on campus, please head to the graduate assembly area and make sure you are in your seat by noon. For an outdoor ceremony, the graduate assembly area will be Orr Auditorium; for an indoor ceremony, the graduate assembly area will be Beeghly Theater.

Students participating in the Baccalaureate service will assemble in Beeghly Theater.

Beginning at noon, the Vice President for Academic Affairs will verify that you are present and do one last name check to ensure correct pronunciation. Once you have been checked off the list, you are free to leave your seat, visit the restroom, take pictures with friends, etc. Make sure to come back to your assigned seat by 12:40 for the processional.

You may either wear your cap and gown or bring it with you and put it on when you arrive at the assembly area. Make sure that you are dressed in your cap/gown/regalia by 12:30 so that you are ready to line up for the processional. Graduates without official Westminster regalia will not be allowed to participate in the Commencement ceremony.

You are welcome to leave personal belongings in the assembly area; please note that the space will not be monitored, so you will leave personal items at your own risk. We recommend leaving valuable items with your family/friends.

We ask that you leave personal items with friends/family or in the assembly area. A Commencement program and bottle of water will be provided to you at your seat for an outdoor ceremony; for an indoor ceremony, programs will be provided in the assembly area.

If you have any special needs, please contact Kim Winfield, Academic Events Coordinator, at winfieka@westminster.edu.

Graduates will sit by degree (B.A., B.M., B.S., B.S.N., M.A., M.B.A., and M.Ed.) and in alphabetical order. Faculty marshals will assist students in lining up in the proper order.

Graduates receiving an undergraduate degree will practice lining up and processing at Commencement rehearsal, which is held the week prior to Commencement. You will receive your seat assignment via email prior to Commencement rehearsal.

Graduates receiving a dual degree (e.g., a B.A and a B.S.) will sit in the front row and walk across Senior Terrace or the Orr stage twice where they fall alphabetically within each degree. Students who have a double major will sit in alphabetical order under their degree since both majors will be under the same degree classification. Students who double major will cross Senior Terrace or the Orr stage only once.

You will cross Senior Terrace or the Orr stage when the Vice President for Academic Affairs calls your name. You will shake the President’s hand and receive your diploma cover while pausing for a photo. You will follow the person in front of you to the secondary photo location, then return to your seat.

Faculty marshals will assist graduates during the ceremony. We will also review this at Commencement rehearsal.