Commencement 2019 primer

commencement 2018

The University of Pennsylvania’s 263rd Commencement ceremony will be held on Franklin Field on Monday, May 20. Answers to most FAQs are at Penn’s Commencement 2019 website. Here are facts and tips to help guide you through this year’s ceremony.

  • Guests should use the south stands entrance to Franklin Field on South Street. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Tickets are not required. The stadium has outdoor bench seating. Refreshments can be purchased at the concession stands. 
  • Graduating students will march into the stadium beginning at 9:30 a.m. The ceremony will officially start at 10:15 and end at approximately 12:15 p.m. 
  • Public-interest lawyer and author Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of The Equal Justice Initiative, which in 2018 created the Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, will deliver the Commencement address. He will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.
  • An estimated 5,000 undergrad and graduate students will attend Commencement. According to data from Penn’s Office of Institutional Research and Analysis, 8,300 diplomas will be issued to approximately 7,700 graduates, some of whom are receiving more than one degree each.
  • Before entering Franklin Field, graduating students will assemble in Hamilton Village for a procession across campus. Faculty, staff, and friends traditionally gather along Locust Walk to watch and cheer the graduates. The student procession will pass a viewing stage in front of College Hall where President Amy Gutmann, other senior administrators, trustees, and the Commencement speaker and honorees will applaud them.
  • Leslie Laird Kruhly, vice president and secretary of the University, will lead the academic procession carrying the University Mace, an ornate, four-pound staff designed in the style of maces of medieval knights. The Penn mace is adorned with the University seal and arms, the Penn and Ben Franklin coat of arms, a depiction of the Rittenhouse orrery, and a thistle symbolizing Penn’s early ties with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
  • Commencement will be held on Franklin Field rain or shine, but, in the event of dangerous weather conditions, the ceremony may be delayed or relocated to the Palestra with seating limited to the academic procession and graduating students. In the event of severe weather conditions, the academic procession across campus may be cancelled. Information will be posted online at and on signs around campus and announced on KYW Radio and via automated telephone messages at 215-898-6358 and 215-898-7006.
  • Family and friends unable to attend Commencement can experience the ceremony live online beginning at 9 a.m. (EDT). Coverage will include the student and academic processions through campus. The streaming webcast is available on the Commencement Webcast & Multimedia Archives page. You can also follow the action on Twitter at #PennGrad.
  • In addition to the University’s Commencement ceremony and a separate Baccalaureate ceremony, Penn’s 12 schools each host a ceremony, at which graduating students will be individually recognized as their names are called, and they walk across a stage. Additional information is available at the School Ceremonies page of the University Commencement website.
  • Public transport is advised. Those planning to drive should allow extra time for traffic congestion. Parking will be limited; normal parking fees apply.