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Fall Commencement 2016

Fall Commencement 2016


All students participating in commencement must rent or purchase academic regalia in the university's distinctive red, white, and blue colors. Rental or purchase of regalia serves as a student's registration to participate in commencement.



  • Graduates assemble in designated areas 45 minutes prior to the start of their ceremony. Look for the sign that identifies your school and degree when you arrive at your assembly area. Only graduating students will be permitted in the assembly areas in the Tavern and Bender Arena.

  • It is recommended that you arrive at your assembly area already wearing your cap and gown. Please leave handbags, coats, jackets, umbrellas, etc. with family or guests. There is no secure location to store your belongings during the ceremony. All bags are subject to search upon entry to Bender Arena.

  • Alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited at commencement.

  • Any graduate or guest exhibiting disruptive behavior during line-up or the ceremony, as determined by university commencement staff or Public Safety, will be subject to removal.

  • Use #2016AUgrad on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Your posts will appear on the screens inside Bender Arena before your ceremony.

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  • Graduates begin lining up for the processional 45 minutes before the ceremony.

  • After finding your school, line up behind the placard that indicates the exact degree you are to receive (MA, MS, MBA, BA, BS, etc.).

  • Choose a partner from your school/degree group and line up two abreast. Your partner must be receiving the same degree as you. Doctoral students will line up with their dissertation advisors.

  • You will be given a card pre-printed with your name and email address. You will hand this card to a reader during the ceremony so that your name can be announced as you cross the stage.

  • Photographers from GradImages will take two pictures of you as you approach the stage and one picture as you shake hands with President Neil Kerwin. GradImages will send proofs and order information to the email address listed on your card approximately two weeks after the ceremony. If necessary, update your email address in the blank space provided on the card.

  • Your degree group will stay together throughout the processional, ceremony, and recessional. Remain in line with your partner, and you will be guided to your seat.

  • Please keep the line straight and orderly during the processional. Do not leave the line once the processional begins. When you reach your seating row, the partner on the right enters first. Proceed directly to your chair and be seated.

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  • Following President Kerwin’s remarks, graduates will be called to the platform for individual recognition. At the appropriate time you will be led from your seat to the ramp at the right of the stage.

  • Go up the ramp. Approach the reader at the microphone and hand the reader your name/address card.

  • When your name is announced, walk to your dean, who will hand you a ceremonial diploma and shake your hand. (For Ph.D. candidates only: When your name is announced, hand your degree hood to the dean. The dean and your advisor will place the hood over your head, and you will receive your diploma.)

  • Proceed across the stage and shake President Kerwin’s hand. A photographer will take your picture as you shake hands.

  • Continue across the stage, go down the ramp, and return directly to your seat.

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After members of the faculty have left the arena, ushers will direct graduates from the arena. Please stay in line and keep moving until all graduates have exited the arena. If the weather is bad, there will be no graduate recessional.

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Return your cap and gown to the Mary Graydon Center Marketplace (new location) by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 21. You must sign your regalia in as proof of return. Your account will be charged full replacement cost of the cap and gown if they are not returned.

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Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden to address grads

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden

American University will celebrate more than 500 graduates in its Fall Commencement Ceremony on Wednesday, December 21. Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and first African American to lead the nation's library, will be the keynote speaker.

Learn more