Event Essentials

Questions?  Find essential information here and please check back often as new details about Wesleyan's 189th Commencement Ceremony are released.

As with all of Wesleyan’s COVID-related policies and guidelines, these plans are tentative and subject to change if conditions necessitate. There are many safety guidelines and practices necessary for a successful in-person event of this magnitude. The information here is guided by federal, state, community, and campus COVID-19 guidelines and protocols to help facilitate the health and safety of all participants. 

Q. What time does the ceremony begin and where will it take place?

The Commencement Ceremony is held on Andrus Field, outdoors, uncovered, rain or shine.  Please be aware of the weather forecast and come prepared with raincoats, umbrellas, and appropriate footwear.  

The official start time of the ceremony is 11 a.m. The procession will begin at 10:45 a.m. and by the time all of the graduates are seated it is likely that the ceremony will begin at approximately 11:10 a.m. The ceremony should last approximately 90 to 120 minutes.

Commencement will be broadcast live with closed captioning, beginning at 10:45 a.m. EDT on the Commencement 2021 page and on the Wesleyan University Facebook page. For anyone who is unable to watch the live broadcast, videos of the speeches will be made available for viewing after the ceremony on the Commencement 2021 page.

Q. How many guests are allowed to attend?

While the University would prefer to welcome more guests to campus, we are limiting our numbers. Initially up to two guests per graduate were permitted in order to ensure the safety of all of our attendees. On May 19, the University announced that up to two additional guests per graduate would be permitted to attend, meaning that each graduate can invite four guests in total. This is now possible because of vaccination efforts nationwide, our recent efforts to offer the vaccine to our on-campus students, and more flexible guidance from the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) and the state of Connecticut.

All graduates and their guests will need to register in advance. Tickets will not be available on Commencement Day. The deadline to register all guests is Sunday, May 23Graduates should register here.

A few notes regarding registration:
• Please be sure to log in to WesPortal before registering yourself and your guests.
• If your guests require accessible seating and/or parking, please be sure to indicate that on the registration form.
• Please indicate on the registration form whether your guests will be fully vaccinated by May 26 or will have received a negative PCR test within three to five days of arrival.
• Please note that guest tickets are non-transferable.

Q. How will I receive my diploma?

Due to the logistics of this year’s academic calendar — classes ending immediately prior to graduation — graduating seniors will receive their official diplomas after Commencement by mail over the summer. 

Q. Do I have to register to participate in Commencement?

Yes all graduates and their guests will need to register through this form

A few notes regarding registration:
• Please be sure to log in to WesPortal before registering guests.
• If your guests require accessible seating and/or parking, please be sure to indicate that on the registration form.
• Please indicate on the registration form whether your guests will be fully vaccinated by May 26 or will have received a negative PCR test within three to five days of arrival.
• Please note that guest tickets are non-transferable.

The deadline to register all guests is Sunday, May 23.

Q. Will my family and/or friends who are unable to attend be able to watch the ceremony online?

Yes. Commencement will be broadcast live online. The live broadcast of the ceremony will begin at 10:45 a.m. EDT, on the Commencement 2021 website as well as on Wesleyan’s Facebook page. Videos of the speeches will be available for viewing after the event.

Q. What is the procedure for remote seniors who want to attend Commencement in person?

December completions and graduating seniors who are studying remotely are permitted to return for Commencement day or may opt to stay campus beginning on Tuesday, May 25, through noon Thursday, May 27. Graduating seniors not currently on campus should indicate on the Commencement Plans form whether they intend to return for Commencement by Wednesday, May 5. Residential Life will place graduating seniors in available residence spaces.

Q. When do seniors need to move out of their residences?

The move out date for seniors is Thursday, May 27 at 1 p.m. Please check the Residential Life website for more details.

Q. What are the safety protocols during the Commencement ceremony?

Wesleyan’s safety protocols will not change. All participants must wear masks at all times unless actively eating or drinking, and everyone must adhere to our social distancing protocols by maintaining six feet of distance from each other. Seating on Andrus Field will be arranged in a socially distant manner.

Q. My guests are coming from out of state. Will they be required to quarantine before coming to campus?

Guests who travel to campus from out of state will be expected to adhere to Connecticut’s COVID-19 travel policies.

Q. Will guests need to be vaccinated before coming to the Commencement ceremony?

All guests are expected to be fully vaccinated or show results of a negative PCR test administered no earlier than three to five days prior to arriving on campus.

Q. May guests participate in the senior celebration activities before and Commencement?

To keep our community healthy and safe, guests may not participate in any on campus activities except for Commencement on Wednesday, May 26.

Q. Will my name be read during the ceremony?

Yes, every graduate’s name will be read during the ceremony and every graduate attending the ceremony will be invited to walk across the stage. Graduates participating remotely will be incorporated into the ceremony. 

Q. How can parents, families, and friends celebrate a graduate?

We are preparing social media elements that can be downloaded, as well as print files for yard signs to help you celebrate graduates. Please check the Commencement web page regularly for updates.

Q. Will there be a place on campus for non-ticketed guests to watch the ceremony?

Access to campus for Commencement is limited to faculty, staff, and graduates. Ticketed guests will be permitted on Andrus Field to watch the ceremony in person, but no other guests will be permitted onto any part of campus. Commencement will be broadcast live with closed captioning, beginning at 10:45 a.m. EDT on the Commencement 2021 page and on the Wesleyan University Facebook page.

Q. If I am a ticketed guest, where do I park?

Guests may park in any available parking lot/space. Please see a map of parking lots here.  Mobility-impaired guests may park in the "E" lot adjacent to the Office of Admission.  Drivers may also drop off guests on Wyllys Avenue and then park elsewhere. Visitors needing accessible parking may utilize any of the designated spaces on campus with a properly displayed state-issued plate or placard from any state. Spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that due to the pandemic, we will not be able to offer shuttles or golf cart assistance.  All lots are within walking distance, but please wear comfortable shoes as some locations require a bit of a walk to Andrus Field.

Q. Will you provide accommodations for people with disabilities?

Wesleyan University is committed to making its educational programs and facilities accessible to people with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations can be provided by departments, programs, and event organizers at the request of guests and visitors with disabilities. Accommodations that are considered reasonable are those that do not fundamentally alter the nature of the institution's programs and policies, and do not place an undue hardship on the institution. Reasonable accommodations are distinguished from services of a personal nature (such as provision of wheel chairs, personal care assistance, etc.) which the university does not provide. 

Please note: If guests require accessibility seating and parking, this should be indicated on the registration form when graduates register their guests for Commencement.  If you have already registered and have missed the opportunity to do this, please email rc@wesleyan.eduGraduates should register here.

Accessibility parking: Accessible parking spots and restrooms are available throughout campus. Vehicles displaying a valid state-issued permit may park in designated accessible parking spots on campus. Mobility-impaired guests may also utilize the "E" lot adjacent to the Office of Admission.

Wheelchairs: Guests needing wheelchairs should make  arrangements to bring their own; wheelchairs are not provided. Wheelchairs can often be rented from a local medical supply store in your community, but are not available from the University.

Q. Where do I purchase my cap and gown?

Pre-ordered caps and gowns will not be delivered to the WRJJ Bookstore until mid-May.
If you want to make a change to an order, you must call Oak Hall (not the bookstore) at  800-456-7623. Please tell Oak Hall that you are a Wesleyan University student from Middletown, CT and need to make a change. You’ll need to give them your order number.

This year, students will purchase their cap and gown regalia (via credit card) from the following Oak Hall website: https://wesleyan.shopoakhalli.com/purchasewizard/Welcome 

Students will either choose a Bachelor Package, Masters Package, or Doctor Package. The website will guide you to the correct gown size by asking height and weight questions.

There has been a slight delay with the shipping of Bachelor Regalia from Oak Hall to the Wesleyan R J Julia Bookstore.  Regalia ordered from Oak Hall will be available for pick-up starting  Friday, May 21st, at 10 a.m. 

Masters and Ph.D. candidates will either elect to pick up their package at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore starting Friday, May 21, or have it sent to their home address.

Wesleyan R J Julia Bookstore’s address is 413 Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457. The phone number is 860-685-3939. Store Hours: Sunday through Wednesday 10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Bachelor candidates who missed the March 31 deadline for delivery to the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore have the following option to purchase:

Buy a cap and gown at the WRJJ Bookstore starting in mid-May.

Oak Hall has confirmed that they ship internationally. They charge $60 for international shipping but can't guarantee a particular date for delivery. If students have additional questions regarding international shipping, they should call Oak Hall directly at 800-456-7623.

Q. How do I make hotel arrangements?

Please visit the University’s Visitor’s Guide for a listing of area hotels.  Planning assumes that public health conditions allow large events to safely take place. We discourage guests from making any non-refundable travel arrangements until the University’s plans are confirmed.

Q. How do I order the photos taken by the photographer on stage?

We understand that guests and families would like to get a photo of their graduate as they walk across Denison Terrace. However, because of the pandemic and in order to adhere to safety protocols, we ask all guests to remain in their seats throughout the ceremony. Wesleyan has partnered with GradTrak® Graduation Images and professional photographers will be at the ceremony to take a candid photograph. You will receive a free passport-sized digital proof of these photos on an order card within 5 to 7 days following the ceremony. Questions may be emailed to service@gradtrak.com.

After the ceremony you may order online at www.gradimages.com or call (800) 261-2576. Because of COVID restrictions and since photographs will be available, family members and guests are encouraged to remain in their seats, relax and enjoy the ceremony. To pre-register your permanent email address and receive a $5.00 coupon towards a purchase of $25.00, please visit www.gradimages.com and click on Pre-Event Registration. You may add contact information for up to six additional relatives and/or friends. GradTrak® will never sell or share the address/email information provided to them.

Q. How do I order a class ring?

Seniors may order Wesleyan class rings directly from Jostens.

Q. How can I order Commencement announcements?

A packet of 10 Commencement announcements will be mailed to the home address of graduating seniors and will arrive prior to May 26. These are NOT tickets to the ceremony.  

Q. Can I bring my pet to the Commencement ceremony?

The University has a pet policy because of the health and safety considerations of our community. Therefore, we kindly request that you leave your pets at home. Exceptions will be made for guests who require the use of a service dog.

Q. Who are this year’s honorary degree recipients?

Reginald Dwayne Betts, an award-winning poet, memoirist, and teacher, is this year’s speaker. MacArthur-winning researcher, writer, and activist Catherine Coleman Flowers and Scott Gottlieb ’94, a physician and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, will also be honored. The recipients were chosen on the basis of their significant contributions to the social, environmental, and public health of the United States.