Frequently Asked Questions About Commencement
What is the Commencement Procession?
Since there is no rehearsal prior to commencement, graduating students participating in the ceremony will assemble prior to the ceremony on the main level of the Stafford Ice Arena at the Field House in their academic regalia at the following times:
- WInter Commencement: 9:15 a.m.
- Spring Commencement: 8:15 a.m. for the morning ceremony and 1:15 p.m. for the afternoon ceremony
The processional will begin with students marching into the ceremony first. As in the past, baccalaureate degree candidates will follow candidates for certificates of advanced study and master's degrees. They will enter the gymnasium and walk down the center aisle to their chairs.
The faculty will then enter the gymnasium led by the Faculty Marshal and proceed down the center aisle to the first several rows of seats facing the stage in front of the students. The platform party will then complete the processional. The platform party consists of members of the College Council, College administrators, faculty leadership, representatives of the Plattsburgh College Foundation, Student Association and Alumni Association and visiting dignitaries and honorees.
Once everyone is in position, the Faculty Marshal will present the mace to the President. The President will officially open the Commencement Ceremony and make introductions. During the ceremony, the Student Commencement Speaker will present remarks on behalf of the class.
Each graduating student in attendance for the ceremony will be formally and publicly recognized as they cross the stage. Candidates for Certificates of Advanced Study and master's degrees will receive their diploma covers first. Candidates for bachelor's degrees will then receive their diploma covers. During the awarding of degrees, graduates will approach the stage and hand their name cards to the faculty announcer. When their names are announced, graduates will walk onto the stage, receive their diploma covers, cross the stage to be congratulated by the president and then exit the stage.
Once the president concludes his remarks, the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir will perform the Alma Mater officially ending the ceremony and the recessional will begin. The Faculty Marshal will lead the Platform Party out of the gymnasium followed by the faculty. The bagpipers will then lead the students out of the ceremony.
We ask all parents, family and friends to remain in their seats until the recessional is completed.
Will there be a rehearsal for Commencement?No. There is no rehearsal prior to commencement. Graduating students need to assemble on the main level of the Stafford Ice Arena at the Field House at the times indicated above - at least 45 minutes before the start of the ceremony.
How will the degrees be conferred?
During the awarding of degrees, graduates will approach the stage and hand their name cards to the faculty announcer. When their names are announced, graduates will walk onto the stage, receive their diploma covers, cross the stage to be congratulated by the president and then exit the stage.
Participants receiving advanced degrees will carry their hoods to the stage. The deans of the College will confer the hoods as degree candidates walk onto the stage to be congratulated by the president.
Are tickets needed for Commencement?
No tickets are required for students or their guests to attend Commencement this year. However, college officials may stop the entry of guests if the Field House Gymnasium reaches capacity.
Are name cards needed?Students participating in Commencement should pick up and complete name cards at the Angell College Center Information Desk the week prior to the Commencement Ceremony (or in the Lobby of the Field House on the day of commencement). The completed cards will be used when your name is announced during the ceremony. If you have a name that might be difficult to pronounce, please provide a phonetic spelling of your name on the card so the reader will be able to correctly enunciate your name as you cross the stage.
Am I graduating with honors from SUNY Plattsburgh?
Students who qualify for an honors distinction are to be highly commended for their academic achievements. They are recognized during commencement ceremonies and in the commencement program. Commencement honors for undergraduate students are estimated based on last semester's cumulative GPA. Actual honors are calculated after commencement (upon receipt of final grades). Students also must complete 45 credits graded A-E.
Students in combined programs (BA/MST or BS/MSED) are awarded honors based on their undergraduate cumulative GPA and the first 12 graduate credits completed.
Graduate students are not awarded commencement honors.
- If your GPA is 3.9 to 4.0, you will graduate Summa Cum Laude.
- If your GPA is 3.7 to 3.89, you will graduate Magna Cum Laude.
- If your GPA is 3.4 to 3.69, you will graduate Cum Laude.
Undergraduate students who have achieved the honor of summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude will be recognized in the Commencement Program. Students with a grade point average at the end of the academic year that meets the honors criteria as noted above, will receive the honors distinction, which will be recorded and displayed on the official transcript and diploma. If there are questions about your GPA status, please contact the Registrar's Office at 518-564-2100 or email [email protected].
Various departments also have individual honors programs. These departments may distribute cords to wear during the ceremony as well. Students may inquire with department chairs or advisors to verify if there are any specific honors distinctions for a major/program.
If you are a member of an honor society, honor cords are available from the College Store or honor society. Be sure to order them ahead of time.
What should I wear with my academic regalia?
All degree candidates must wear cap and gown or military dress uniform in order to participate in commencement exercises. While commencement is a formal ceremony, we do ask you to wear appropriate attire underneath your gown. The general rule is light weight, non-restricting clothes. Men do not have to wear jackets, but should wear a shirt and tie. You are requested not to wear shorts, overalls, sandals or sneakers.
When will I receive my diploma?Diplomas are mailed approximately two months after the semester ends. Please note that only one undergraduate diploma will be received regardless of the number of majors a student graduates with. The only exception is for students in the combined programs (i.e. BA/MST, BS/MSED, etc.). These students will receive two diplomas, one for their undergraduate program and one for their graduate program.
What rules apply for photography?
Photography (cameras and video recorders) is permitted in the Field House Gymnasium for all ceremonies.
However, to avoid blocking the view of others, guests are not permitted in front of the stage area or along the front sections of aisles. Only the professional photographers are allowed in the immediate vicinity of the stage during the ceremony.
Please note that once the singing of the "Alma Mater" begins at the end of the ceremony, all aisles must be cleared as required by the fire and safety code and guests should remain in their seats.
Pre-Register with GradImages for Your Graduation Photos
SUNY Plattsburgh has contracted with GradImages to take candid photographs of degree candidates as the president congratulates them.
Within five business days after the ceremony, GradImages will mail and/or email each graduate photographed a free passport-sized photo proof along with the opportunity to select from a variety of photo packages.
Graduates may place orders online or via telephone with the studio at that time, but are under no obligation to do so.
SUNY Plattsburgh does not assume any liability for this service, which is being provided by GradImages.
For more information about pre-registering with GradImages™ or any other questions, please call:
- (850) 907-2740 (Everywhere)
- (800) 261-2576 (United States)
- (800) 372-3686 (Canada in English)
- (800) 501-2279 (Canada en Français)
Will faculty be at the ceremony?Many faculty members participate in Commencement. It is a time for them to see their students successfully finish their college careers at SUNY Plattsburgh. We encourage students to invite your favorite faculty members to participate and meet their family members who are in attendance for this wonderful occasion.
History and Traditions of Commencement
A commencement ceremony ranks among the most formal ceremonies in an academic institution and involve centuries-old traditions that have their roots in medieval secular and religious institutions. Here is a description of some of the more important aspects of the ceremony.
Presidential Chain of Office
The Chain of Office, also commonly referred to as the Presidential Medallion, is worn by the president as a symbol of the SUNY Plattsburgh's history and tradition. It is worn at all official ceremonies of the College, including Commencement and Honors Convocation.
The Chain of Office was designed in 1997 to carry on the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of SUNY Plattsburgh. The beautiful medallion integrates the current seal of the institution with a decorative bezel. The chain features fleur-de-lis banner links, which are engraved with the names of the College's past principals and presidents along with their years of service to the institution and community.
The name of President John Ettling is engraved on the closet banner link just above the medallion, and its location signifies his current position as president of the institution. From his banner, the chain branches off in two directions and completes a full circle.
One of the earliest distinctive signs used by medieval university officials was the academic scepter or mace. The mace was originally a wooden staff carried by royal messengers. In the middle of the 13th century the mace came into use in England and was carried by the king's sergeants in formal processionals.
The early wooden staff of the university beadle, a subaltern official, evolved in the 14th century into an elaborate silver mace. It was carried by the beadle during processions and graduation ceremonies and was displayed as a symbol to command order during classes. In the 15th century, it became symbolic of academic dignity.
Today, traditional academic processions continue to bear some of the same formal aspects of ceremonies from the past including the mace. The handcrafted mace of SUNY Plattsburgh was designed and sculpted in 1985 by the late Dr. Edgar Barton, SUNY distinguished teaching professor emeritus of art. Dr. Barton used his own unique technique of silver inlay in a piece of black walnut wood to create a modern adaptation of this traditional form.
The academic procession is led by the most senior members of the faculty who will carry the mace -- a symbol of academic authority.
Academic Attire: aka The Cap and Gown
Caps, gowns and hoods worn at college and university functions date from the Middle Ages. Monks and students of that time wore them to keep warm in the damp, drafty halls of learning. From these practical origins they have developed into the accepted garb, which symbolizes scholarly achievement.
Today, the design and color of the various attire are key to the level of education and field of study of the person. Baccalaureate gowns have a long, pleated front with shirring across the shoulders and back. They are primarily distinguished by flowing sleeves pointed at the fingertips. These gowns may be worn open or closed.
The master's gown is worn open and the sleeve is cut so that the forearm comes through a slit just above the elbow. Gowns for the doctorate are also worn open. They carry broad, velvet panels down the front and the three velvet bards on the full, round sleeves. This velvet trimming may be either black or the color distinctive of the degree.
Academic gowns are generally black, but several institutions permit doctoral recipients to wear gowns of the characteristic institutional color. You may notice Faculty members in the Commencement processional wearing colors representing: a brown gown (Brown University), a crimson gown (Harvard), a light blue gown (Columbia University), as examples.
Mortarboards or caps worn with baccalaureate and master's gowns generally have black tassels. The tassel of the doctoral cap is usually made of gold bullion. The hood gives color and meaning to the academic costume. Its silk lining bears the color of the institution conferring the degree. The hood is bordered with velvet of a prescribed width and color to indicate the field of learning to which the degree pertains.
Academic Attire Colors
The design and color of the various attire are key to the level of education and field of study of the person, and is some cases the Institution.
Several doctoral recipients wear gowns of characteristic institutional color. You will notice Faculty members in the Commencement processional wearing colors representing their Institution.
Hoods give color and meaning to the academic costume. Their silk lining bears the color of the institution conferring the degree. The hood is bordered with velvet of a prescribed width and color to indicate the field of learning to which the degree pertains.
Apricot Nursing Brown Fine Arts Citron Social Work Copper Economics Cream Social Science Crimson Journalism Dark Blue Philosophy Drab Commerce, Accountancy, Business Golden Yellow Science Green Medicine Lemon Library Science Light Blue Education Orange Engineering Peacock Blue Public Administration, including Foreign Service Pink Music Purple Law Russett Forestry Sage Green Physical Education Salmon Pink Public Health Scarlet Theology Silver Gray Oratory (Speech) White Arts, Letters, Humanities