Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Help! When and where is graduation?
A: The Commencement Ceremony (graduation) will take place on Sunday, May 20, 2012, at 11:00 am and will run approximately 2 to 3 hours. Attendees generally start arriving between 9:30 and 10:30 am for seating.
Commencement is held outside of the Memorial Building on the south lawn on Boyer, between Park and Otis. The college provides seating (folding chairs and bleachers) and it is recommended to bring your own blankets, stadium cushions or whatever else you need to sit comfortably. Accessibility Information can be found on the main information page for Parents, Visitors, and Families.
Q: Where should I stay during Commencement Weekend?
A: Parents, visitors, and family members are strongly encouraged to make hotel reservations as early as possible since many local hotels sell out during Commencement weekend. There are a variety of lodging options available in Walla Walla. Visit the following links for recommendations:
Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce
Q: What happens if it rains?
A: Only in extreme weather conditions such as hail, lightning or high winds will Commencement be moved inside. In the unlikely event of an indoor ceremony, Commencement will start at 12:00 p.m. to allow staff additional time for set-up. For more information see our Extreme Weather Plan.
Q: What are the arrangements for individuals who use wheelchairs or need access to a sign language interpreter?
A: Staff and students serving as event ushers will be available to guide individuals to appropriate seating. Security will allow vehicles to drop people off for the ceremony on Boyer Avenue near Otis Street. Additional drop off points are available between Harper Joy Theatre and the Science Building and in the Baker Faculty Center driveway. A sign language interpreter will be provided at both Baccalaureate and Commencement. More detailed Accessibility Information can be found on the main information page for Parents, Visitors, and Families.
Q: Is there reserved seating?
A: The only reserved seating at Commencement is for graduating seniors, faculty members, guests with special needs and members of the 50th-year reunion class. All other seating is first-come, first-served. There will be seating provided on bleachers as well as folding chairs. Guests are also welcome to bring their own folding lawn chairs to set up in green space near the bleachers. Please respect all seating areas that are designated with signage as reserved.
Q: Is there a place to sit inside and watch the ceremony?
A: If you prefer to watch from an indoor location, you may view the ceremony indoors by webcast from the Kimball Theatre in Hunter Conservatory or in the Young Ballroom in the Reid Campus Center.
Q: Where is parking available?
A: Several parking lots are available around campus. There are also parking spaces in the residential neighborhoods that surround campus and on Main Street. Self-contained motor homes are welcome to park in any of the available campus parking lots for the Commencement weekend. Many people choose to park downtown and walk to campus.
Q: Who is speaking at Commencement this year?
A: The 2012 Commencement Speaker will be Eric Schlosser, award-winning journalist and author of "Fast Food Nation."
Q: When will we have a list of graduation activities?
A: A complete list of Commencement Weekend Activities will be posted as events are finalized. Please check back periodically for updates. Various groups on campus organize activities and these generally start the Friday evening before Commencement.
Q: How can we get graduation announcements?
A: For students who wish to purchase graduation announcements, they are available to buy separately or as part of a package with the purchase of cap and gown.
Q: Where do students get caps and gowns?
A: Students must order a cap and gown for Commencement by 8:59 p.m. on April 9, 2012. Caps, gowns and tassels will be distributed between 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 18 at the Whitman College Bookstore in the Reid Campus Center.
Q: Is there a rehearsal?
A: No, there is no rehearsal. Through printed and e-mail communications, as well as this website and the commencement marshals, you will be informed of all the ceremony details.
Q: When and where is the senior class photo going to happen?
A: Graduating seniors should meet no later than 9:45 a.m. near the Science Building on Ankeny Field, dressed in cap and gown.
Q: How do I get copies of the professional photo and DVD?
A: The professional photographer is Marty Huie, who has photographed Whitman Commencement for many years. Shortly after commencement, his company will send packets addressed "To the Parents/Family of STUDENT NAME." All the order information will be included along with contact information if you have questions. All order questions should be directed to the photography company directly, not Whitman. Also, you can order online through this link: www.orders.gradphotonetwork.com If you have questions, please call (509) 529-5183 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Q: Can family and friends take pictures of the diploma presentation?
A: Audience members can take stills and videos from their seats. They are not allowed to approach the stage or stand in the area where graduates exit the stage. This is because the official professional photographer will capture graduates, diploma in hand, coming off the stage. If a graduate sees multiple cameras, he or she will be distracted which will negatively impact the photographer's ability to capture the best possible professional shot.
If you have further questions about Commencement not answered here, please feel free to contact our 2012 Commencement Coordinator, Mara Sorkin, by email or phone: