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Information for Families & Guests

William & Mary received guidance from the Commonwealth of Virginia that is informing our decision-making for Commencement Weekend on May 21-23, 2021. Importantly, the guidance has made it possible for a limited number of family members/guests to attend a graduation ceremony on campus.

The Commencement Committee is working to craft the best possible experience for you and your guests, including holding your graduation ceremony in Zable Stadium. There will continue to be a virtual option for those who cannot be on campus in person. All of our decisions remain contingent on the latest data regarding COVID-19 and the evolving health and safety guidance we receive from the commonwealth. 

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Stay Up to Date

Families may sign-up to receive regular email updates leading up to Commencement Weekend. We will use that information to also keep you updated on any changes or inclement weather during Commencement weekend. You can also review the latest email messages sent to the Class of 2021.

Need information or have questions?
Commencement Schedule and General Information

Office of Student Affairs
757-221-1236
[[commencement, Commencement Planning Team]]

Graduation/Academic Requirements/Diplomas

University Registrar's Office
[[wendy.urbano, Wendy Urbano]]

Regalia and General Graduation Merchandise

W&M Bookstore
757-221-1669

Tickets

Tickets will be emailed to graduates by Wednesday, May 19. They may then forward the tickets to their guests to display on their phone, or they may print out their tickets to be scanned. If using a phone, please have the tickets open and ready for scanning when you reach the entry gate. Each ticket scans only once, so electronic tickets may not be duplicated. 

Extra Tickets

Any student who registered to receive extra tickets through the lottery will receive an email on April 29 asking them to indicate the number of tickets they would like to request. Each ceremony will have a different number of lottery tickets based upon current guest counts. We will confirm the number of extra tickets each student will receive no later than Friday, May 7.

Parking
  • Download the MapDownload the 2021 parking map (pdf) to see the following recommended lots and guidelines.
  • Guests should plan to park at the Kaplan Arena lot and walk to Zable Stadium (pdf), an approximately 5 minute walk. Directional signage will guide your walk to Zable Stadium. Guests of students with last names A-L will be directed to gate 1, and M-Z to gate 3. Please plan to move your car within 30 minutes of the end of the ceremony so there is ample parking for the next ceremony.
  • Guests with limited mobility who display either an ADA tag or limited mobility access pass (provided electronically to the graduating student) will be permitted to drop off at the limited mobility entrance to Zable. The driver will then be directed to park in the Zable Stadium parking lot, close to the limited mobility entrance and exit. View the limited mobility Zable Stadium diagram (pdf).
Mask Requirements

In response to updated public health guidance and continuing increases in vaccination in our area and at the university, William & Mary is updating our masking policies as of May 18.

  • Students and guests must wear a face covering while in any shared indoor space, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Outdoor Commencement ceremonies will not require masks, but we will continue to observe the six-foot minimum distancing built into initial plans to protect those not yet vaccinated. Individuals not yet vaccinated are advised to wear masks and observe physical distancing guidelines.
  • W&M is not prohibiting masks nor distancing and will support you if you choose to continue to do so for your own comfort or for the protection of those who are unable to be vaccinated.
Prohibited Items for Zable Stadium

The prohibited items list is for the enjoyment and safety of Commencement guests. This list is subject to change as conditions warrant. 

  • Backpacks (exceptions: diaper bags, string backpacks)
  • Bags measuring larger than 1’ x 1’ x 1’
  • Outside food & drink (except for factory sealed non-alcoholic beverages, no larger than one liter; juice boxes, factory sealed infant snacks, and baby food). Concessions will not be served, so please time your meals before and after the ceremony accordingly.
  • Camera Tripods / Monopods / Selfie-Sticks
  • Firearms and other weapons
  • Laptop computers
  • Alcohol, use of any tobacco products, or illegal substances
  • E-cigarettes and vapor apparatuses
  • Noisemakers, laser pointers, balls, Frisbees, inflatable objects
  • Coolers, ice chests
  • Pets
  • Strollers (there will be a stroller parking tent near the entrance)
  • Anything deemed unsafe by police or event staff
Recommended Items for Zable Stadium

Due to the outdoor environment, we encourage guests to bring the following items with them into Zable Stadium.

  • Stadium Seat Backs: A majority of seats in Zable Stadium are bleacher seats, so we encourage guests to bring stadium seats with backs.
  • Water: We STRONGLY recommend guests bring their own factory-sealed water. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all water fountains and community re-fill stations are closed in Zable Stadium. As per state guidelines, we are also not permitted to sell concessions, including water. 
    • You are permitted to bring sealed containers of water or other non-alcoholic beverages (e.g. previously unopened plastic bottles of purified water, soda, gatorade, etc).
    • Each bottle should be 1 liter size or less.
    • For security reasons, guests may NOT bring glass containers or any refillable container or other container that has previously been opened (e.g. Nalgene, thermos, paper or plastic cups, or half-consumed bottles of water).
  • Food for Young Children, Diabetics or Medical Issues: Concessions will not be served, so please time your meals before and after the ceremony accordingly.
  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats & sunglasses. Most guest seats are not shaded.
  • In Case of Rain:
    • Rain coats
    • Umbrellas are permitted, but please be aware of your surroundings and be respectful of other guests around you.
    • Small hand towels to dry your seat.
Entry

Gates will open one hour before the ceremony start time. In order to avoid too many guests at any one gate, we will direct guests to entry gates based upon the graduate’s last name:

  • A-L to gate 1 (behind Sadler Center)
  • M-Z to gate 3 (near Alumni House)
Seating
Families & Guests
Graduate Field Seating Charts

Graduates will be seated on Zable Field according to major. The diagrams below show the approximate location for each major. Note the Sadler Center location is toward the bottom of the page.

Accessibility Accommodations
  • View the limited mobility parking, entry and seating diagram for Zable Stadium (pdf).
  • Wheelchair/limited mobility guests will be able to drop-off directly in front of gate 5.
  • Limited mobility seating is on the track, so no stairs are required for limited mobility guests.
  • Guests who can climb some steps will be ushered to lower rows of seating we have reserved and may sit with one companion.
  • Guests who cannot climb stairs will be ushered to the limited mobility seating area on the track and may sit with one companion.
  • Guests in wheelchairs or scooters will be ushered to the limited mobility seating area on the track and may sit with one companion.
  • We will have American Sign Language interpreters at each ceremony. Guests requiring live ASL interpretation should enter at gate 5.
  • Live closed captioning will be available on the ceremony livestreams.
Ceremony Timeline

The ceremony will last approximately two hours. Graduates will cross the stage by major, though graduates will not necessarily cross alphabetically.

Photography

A professional photographer will be on-hand to take pictures of graduating students after they have crossed the stage. Students will receive more information about how to order and purchase their photos.

Exiting the Stadium

At the end of the ceremony, students will process out of the stadium. Once students have exited, we ask all guests to pick up any personal belongings, deposit trash and recycling in the appropriate bins, and exit the stadium as efficiently as possible so that we can prepare for the next ceremony. Guests and students should not congregate immediately outside of the stadium.

We also ask guests parked in Zable and Kaplan lots to please move their vehicles shortly after the ceremony ends so that we can prepare parking for the next ceremony.

Weather
  • Heat: Late May in Williamsburg can be very hot and humid. We recommend guests dress comfortably for the weather. Prepare to be in the sun from the time you arrive until the ceremony is finished. Sunscreen, sunglasses and hats are recommended.
  • Rain: We will hold Commencement rain or shine. Guests should dress appropriately. Umbrellas are permitted, but please be aware of your surroundings and be respectful of other guests around you. If it has been wet, we recommend guests bring their own towels to wipe seats down.
  • Thunder/Lightning: We will move graduates to Kaplan Arena only in the event of the threat of thunder/lightning. If this happens, guests will not be permitted inside Kaplan, but they may watch the ceremony via live stream.
Other Viewing Options

Live-streaming of the main ceremonies for the Class of 2021 will be available.

Class Rings

Class rings may be purchased online at the Jostens website. If you have any questions about class rings, please contact Jostens at 800-854-7464.

Graduation Announcements
  • Generic: W&M graduation announcements may be purchased at the Bookstore beginning in March.
  • Personalized: William & Mary graduation announcements imprinted with an individual's name and degree may be purchased online at the Jostens website. Basic packages start at $95.98. If you have any questions about announcements, please contact the Bookstore at 757-221-1669 or Jostens at 800-854-7464.