William and Mary

About the Reception

The Winter Graduates Reception is an intimate event that differs from May’s Commencement ceremony. It takes place in a large room and is broken into two parts: the ceremony and the reception. Typically, about 150 winter graduates and their families attend (about 400 people total).


The ceremony typically lasts about 45 minutes and includes remarks from the Graduate Council President, Senior Class President, a recent alum and President Reveley. It also includes an alumni pinning ceremony and a toast to the graduates. Each graduate is recognized by name, at which point the graduate walks across a small stage to receive an imitation diploma (real diplomas are mailed out in January). Each graduate shakes the College President's hand while walking across the stage.


The socializing/reception is another 30-45 minutes and includes heavy hors d’oeuvres. Please note that there is limited seating in the room. We ask that you allow guests with limited mobility to sit in the chairs. Most guests and studens stand throughout the ceremony and reception. 

What to Wear

Business attire is appropriate for graduates and guests.  Graduates do not wear academic regalia (caps and gowns) at this event.

Inviting Guests

Unlike the formal Commencement exercises in May, this event does not require tickets. Degree candidates are invited to bring up to four guests to the reception (a suggested number based on the space limitation of the room in which the event is held).