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Divinity School

Instructions for Commencement Week 2016

If you have questions not covered in these instructions, call 615-322-2870 or email

Wednesday, May 11

  • 8:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. Students may pick up caps, gowns, tassels and hoods at the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt by presenting a photo ID.
    Anyone presenting your Vanderbilt ID may pick up regalia (Cap and Gown) for you. Regalia are not available on Alumni Lawn.
  • 9:00 p.m. THE PARTY at The Commons Center Lawn. More information »

Thursday, May 12

  • 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Students may pick up caps, gowns, tassels and hoods at the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt by presenting a photo ID.
    Anyone presenting your valid Vanderbilt ID may pick up regalia (cap and gown) for you. Regalia are not available on Alumni Lawn.
  • 9:45 a.m. All degree candidates, family and friends are invited to be seated on the floor of Memorial Gymnasium. Seating is open and not dictated by school. Dress is business casual.
    Please do not bring any backpacks or large bags into the gymnasium. Family and friends should go directly to the seating areas on the 1st floor of the North and South court sides.
  • 11:00 a.m. Senior Class Day speaker, Memorial Gymnasium. More Information »
  • 5:30 p.m. Celebration for Vanderbilt Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion graduates in Benton Chapel.

Friday, May 13 (Commencement Day)

  • 7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. Out of town students who arrive in Nashville just before the exercises can obtain regalia (Cap and Gown) at the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt by presenting a photo ID. Anyone presenting your Vanderbilt ID may pick up regalia (Cap and Gown) for you. Regalia are not available on Alumni Lawn.
  • 8:25 a.m. Students and faculty report to assembly areas to line up for the Commencement Procession. Promptness in lining up is imperative. The Divinity School will assemble in the following order and place:
    • Divinity School followed by OGSM candidates (M.Div., M.T.S. [Divinity]; and M.B.A., M.S.F., and M.Acc. [OGSM]). Degree candidates from Divinity will line-up in single file (not in alpha order) beginning at the Southwest corner of Alumni Hall between Neely Auditorium (see ORANGE line on Assembly Area map). Faculty line up behind the dean and banner bearer, but in front of the degree candidates.
  • STUDENTS: Bottled water and fans are available on the perimeter of the seating area. Please pick these up before you line up.  Programs will be available at the front of each procession line. Caps are normally worn throughout the exercises. Hoods are worn by all except those receiving bachelor degrees.
  • GUESTS should be seated on Alumni Lawn no later than 8:30 a.m. to see the procession. Bottled water, programs and fans are available on the perimeter of the seating area. Please advise your guests to pick these up on the way to their seats.
  • 9:00 a.m. The procession of candidates enters Alumni Lawn to seating reserved for candidates and faculty as guided by faculty marshals. After students are seated and at the second trumpet signal, the academic procession (the order of procession will be printed in your Commencement Program) will move toward the platform.
  • 10:15 a.m. Recession of graduate and professional school degree recipients and their faculties as instructed by the chair of the Faculty Senate from the platform. These groups will depart as led by a faculty marshal.
  • Hooding And Diploma-awarding Ceremony And Reception
    • Immediately following the main ceremony degree recipients should line up alphabetically in the corridor outside the Divinity Administrative suite (Room 113) for procession into Benton Chapel. The diploma-awarding ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. All members of the Divinity School faculty should line up behind the degree recipients.
    • Following the ceremony there will be a reception for graduates and their guests in the refectory of the Oberlin Divinity Quadrangle.
  • 12:30 – 2 p.m. Informal luncheon for faculty participating in the graduation exercises. Buttrick Hall Atrium.

Academic Regalia (Cap and Gown)

A strong tradition of Commencement, both at Vanderbilt University and at universities in general, is the wearing of uniform academic regalia. The uniformity of regalia, inconsistent only by reason of the particular degree being conferred and by distinctions for individual honors achieved, e.g. Founder’s Medals and class marshal ribbons, symbolizes that each graduate has fulfilled the same requirements for that degree.

In keeping with this tradition, candidates for degrees are encouraged not to wear adornments. Please read the Adornment Policy for more information.

Returning Regalia (Cap and Gown)

Students –Return located the Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt

Deadline: Monday, May 16th, by Noon

Bachelors: You keep all aspects of your cap and gown 

Masters: Keep tassel and cap, return hood and gown. 

Doctors and PhD: Return all aspects of gown, tam with tassel and hood.

Faculty should pick up and return regalia as instructed by their dean’s office.

Participation in Commencement Exercises

Degree candidates must have completed successfully all curriculum requirements and have passed all prescribed examinations by the published deadlines to be allowed to participate in the ceremony. Participating students should plan to attend the main ceremony, and the Divinity School hooding and diploma-awarding ceremony as well. Guests and participants will be expected to remain at the respective ceremonies until the conclusion. Much depends on the courtesy and cooperation of all who attend.

Students unable to participate in the graduation ceremony will receive their diploma by mail.

A student completing degree requirements in August or December 2016 will be invited to participate in Commencement exercises in May 2017.

Commencement-Text Inclement Weather

In the event of inclement weather the ceremony will be held in Memorial Gymnasium. If in doubt, check the Commencement Website or call the VU telephone operators at 615-322-7311. An alert will be sent to your cell phone if you have signed up for Commencement Text Alerts.

There will be no procession for candidates in Memorial Gym.

Graduate and Professional: (arrive by 8:15 a.m.) Promptness in arrival is imperative.

Degree candidates should enter through the “Student Entrance” located on the south side facing the baseball field and make their way to the west end of the court via the “Southwest Connector.” Divinity School candidates will sit in section 3L. Watch for signs and faculty marshals to assist.

Faculty who will be attending the diploma-awarding ceremony at Benton Chapel should sit with the degree candidates in section 3L.

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Future Commencement Dates

 2017  -  May 10, 11, 12
 2018  -  May 9, 10, 11
 2019  -  May 8, 9, 10
 2020 -  May 6, 7, 8

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Text Alerts

Vanderbilt offers a complimentary early alert system for all Commencement attendees. The system is designed to inform you, via text message, if any of the main ceremonies have been moved or canceled due to weather or any unexpected circumstance.