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Peabody College

Friday, May 10, 2019

Main Commencement Ceremony

9:00 am, Alumni Lawn
Graduates arrival time: 8:25 a.m.

Peabody College Diploma Ceremony

11:00 am Wyatt Center Lawn
(in front of the Wyatt Center on Peabody Campus)
Graduates arrival time: 10:30 am

Watch a livestream of the ceremony here.

Graduates from August 2018December 2018 and May 2019 are eligible to participate in Commencement ceremonies on May 10, 2019. This includes the Main Ceremony on Alumni Lawn, followed by the Peabody College Diploma Ceremony on Wyatt Center Lawn. You will receive email messages from both the University Registrar and Peabody College about confirming your attendance and other important information. Messages will be sent to your permanent (non-VU) email address as specified on your intent to graduate form. Please reply to all messages when requested. Peabody College will continue to contact graduates until we receive a response. 

The best way to find information and stay up-to-date on day of changes is to download the Vanderbilt Commencement App for Apple or Android phones. Be sure to turn on notifications for last minute alerts of potential venue changes due to inclement weather.

Peabody College Distinguished Alumnus/a Award

Peabody College annually presents an outstanding alumnus with the Peabody Distinguished Alumnus/a Award. The award salutes the achievements of alumni who have made significant contributions and achievements in his/her chosen field. Read more about the award and see past winners here.

2019’s Distinguished Alunus/a Award goes to Shaiza Rizavi.

Shaiza Rizavi was born in Karachi, Pakistan and emigrated at the age of 7 with her family to the northern suburbs of Chicago. While attending Vanderbilt University, she double majored in English and human and organizational development at Peabody College, and worked at public defenders’ offices in Nashville and Washington, D.C. During Alternative Spring Breaks, Mrs. Rizavi helped the homeless, raised awareness of best practices for sanitation in Mexico, and implemented services for people with family members in prison.

After graduation, Mrs. Rizavi worked as a legal assistant at a New York law firm before moving to Southeast Asia for two years to evaluate child development programs designed to address child labor and prostitution issues in Thailand and Vietnam. Afterward, she earned an MBA from Columbia Business School. Since 1996, Mrs. Rizavi has worked at Gilder, Gagnon, Howe & Co.—a growth equity brokerage firm committed to helping small investors create wealth—where she is currently a partner, managing member and money manager.

In addition to providing loyal philanthropic support to Peabody College, Mrs. Rizavi remains active at Columbia Business School where she Co-Chairs the Advisory Board of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and sits on the Board of Overseers, the Investment Board of the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, and Board of Managers of the Columbia Investment Management Company.

Mrs. Rizavi also serves on the boards of trustees of the American Museum of Natural History; the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; and Acumen where she learns about business strategies to address poverty in East and West Africa, India, Pakistan and the Americas. She is a member of the Economic Club of New York and NationSwell Council, a digital media company focused on American innovation and renewal.


All graduating students must order and wear regalia (cap, gown, hood) in order to participate, and are responsible for ordering it through Vanderbilt University.

Please note:  The deadline for ordering regalia is April 5, 2019.  

Students must pick up their regalia at the upper level of Barnes and Noble at Vanderbilt, located at 2525 West End Avenue, across from Centennial Park, on Wednesday and Thursday, May 8th and 9th, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Please bring a photo ID, or allow someone to present your Vanderbilt ID to pick up your regalia on your behalf.   Regalia will not be available on Alumni Lawn .

Peabody Post Baccalaureate Reception

Graduating students and their guests are invited to attend a Post Baccalaureate Reception hosted by Peabody College on the Peabody Esplanade on Friday, May 10th at 12:45 pm.

Main Commencement Ceremony

The Main Ceremony takes place on Alumni Lawn (Memorial Gymnasium in case of severe weather, see Commencement app). Peabody College graduate students should arrive at Curry Field (located on the east side of Kirkland Hall) by 8:25 am. where they will line up by degree. The procession begins promptly at 9:00 am.  When released from the Main Ceremony, graduate students should walk to the Wyatt Center Lawn for the Peabody College Diploma Ceremony (please allow 15 minutes).  Additional instructions and maps can be found on the Vanderbilt Commencement website.

Peabody College Diploma Ceremony

All graduate students will receive their diplomas and Ed.D. graduates will be hooded at the Peabody College Diploma Ceremony that directly follows the Main Commencement Ceremony. The Peabody College Diploma Ceremony will be held at the Wyatt Center Lawn (in front of the Wyatt Center on Peabody Campus) and begins promptly at 11:00 am with graduates arriving at 10:30 am.

Please note: Ph.D. students do not take apart in Peabody's Diploma Ceremony. Ph.D. students should report to the Graduate School's Diploma Ceremony, located on Magnolia Lawn.

Ed.D. Hooding

An integral part of the Diploma Ceremony is the hooding of Ed.D. graduates. The doctoral hood, carried on stage by the graduates, is placed over the head and onto the shoulders, symbolizing support of the graduate and passing on of knowledge between one generation of doctorates to another. Generally, the hooding is performed by the faculty advisor, dissertation chair, or another faculty member of the dissertation committee. Asking and arranging for a faculty member to be a hooder is left to the discretion of the graduate. If a graduate does not name a faculty member as a hooder, one of the Peabody College Assistant Deans will act as hooder.


All graduating students and faculty should arrive at Wyatt Center Lawn on the Peabody Campus (see map) for the Peabody College Diploma Ceremony no later than 10:30 am. Students and faculty will check-in at the designated check-in tables and receive a card with instructions for line-up, processional, hooding, diploma, and photos.

Guest Seating

No tickets are required for the commencement ceremonies, and there are no limitations on the number of guests a student can have in attendance. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis in “designated” guest areas (white chairs are for guests). Handicapped seating is located in the center, front section of the guest seating area. Black chairs are reserved for graduating students. 

Important Instructions:

  • Please keep ALL aisles clear at all times for the processional/recessional.
  • Please refrain from cell phone use during the ceremony.
  • Smoking is strictly prohibited inside or around the tent area.
  • Pets are prohibited other than official service animals.

Accessibility and Special Needs

Wheelchair reservation, drop-off permits and interpreter/transcription services are provided by the Vanderbilt Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department’s Disability Services Program to ensure all guests enjoy a comfortable and accessible Commencement.  More details about accessibility and special accommodations, including forms to request assistance, can be found  here 


You will give your check-in card to the designated staff member as you enter the ramp leading up to the stage. A distinguished faculty member will read graduates' names as they enter the stage.

  • Master's candidates wear their hoods as they cross the stage to shake the Dean's hand and receive their diploma.
  • Ed.D. candidates drape their hood over their left arm. They cross to the center of the stage, stop in front of the hooding platform, then face the audience. The hooder then steps onto the platform, takes the hood from the candidate, and places it over the candidate's head and across the shoulders. After being hooded, graduates walk across the stage with their hooder to shake the Dean's hand and receive their diploma. 


A professional photographer takes photos as graduates shake hands with the Dean on stage. As a courtesy to all in attendance, please ask your guests to refrain from advancing to the front of the stage area to take photos. After the ceremony, the stage is available for additional graduate and guest photo opportunities. The Peabody Commencement Ceremony will be available to view for free on YouTube.


Wyatt Center Lawn is located in front of the Wyatt Center on the Peabody Campus. Please refer to this map.

There will also be an indoor viewing location available in the Rotunda, located on the third floor of the Wyatt Center building (see map). Here guests can enjoy water and air conditioning as they observe the ceremony via high definition livestream.


There are four complimentary parking garages on campus with shuttle service to various Commencement events (see below). Shuttle buses will be available from all four garages. In addition, a shuttle from the Main Ceremony on Alumni Lawn to the Graduate School Diploma Ceremony on Magnolia Lawn will run at 10:15 am for special needs guests. Refer to the shuttle service map and the Vanderbilt Commencement website for complete schedules and locations.

  • 25th Ave. Garage on the corner of 25th and Highland Avenues – please use the Highland Ave. entrance only
  • Terrace Place Garage on the corner of 21st Ave. and Terrace Place
  • Wesley Place Garage on the corner of 21st Ave. and Scarritt Place
  • Kensington Place Garage on the corner of 25th Ave. and Kensington Place 


Inclement Weather Plan 

In the event of inclement weather, Vanderbilt’s Main Commencement Ceremony will be held in the Memorial Gymnasium. The decision to enact the rain plan will be made by 5 a.m. on Friday, May 11. Direct communication of any changes will be sent out via the Commencement App. (You can download it here.) If in doubt, check the main Vanderbilt Commencement website or call the Vanderbilt telephone operators at 615-322-7311. There will be no procession for candidates in Memorial Gym. 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.” Peabody School candidates will sit in section 2L. Watch for signs designating school and degree at the end of the rows. Faculty Marshals will be on hand to assist.

The Peabody Commencement Ceremony will still take place at the Wyatt Center Lawn, under tents.