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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I arrive in Walla Walla?

There are two main events held during Commencement weekend which parents, families, and graduating seniors are encouraged to attend: Baccalaureate on Saturday afternoon and Commencement on Sunday morning.

A complete list of Commencement weekend activities will be posted as events are finalized. Please check back periodically for updates.

Where should I stay during Commencement Weekend?

If you choose to travel to Walla Walla, you are encouraged to secure lodging as early as possible since many locations sell out during Commencement Weekend. Whitman College does not provide housing for parents or families during Commencement. For more information about local hotels and other accommodations, check out the following links:

Where can I park during Commencement?

Limited parking is available in the lots on campus near the Harper Joy Theatre and the Music Building. Please respect reserved parking signs in these lots. Free parking is available in most residential neighborhoods that surround campus. Many people choose to park downtown and walk to campus.

Where should I eat during Commencement Weekend?

There are many dining options available at restaurants in Walla Walla. Advance reservations are recommended during this busy weekend. A list of local restaurants can be found on the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce website.   A complimentary light lunch will be served on the lawn between the Memorial Building and the Penrose Library following the Commencement Ceremony.

When and where is the graduation ceremony?

The 2023 Commencement Ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 21, 2023. The ceremony lasts around two hours.

The ceremony is held on the south lawn of the Memorial Building on Boyer Avenue between Park and Otis Streets (please note that these streets are closed during the event). 

What are the seating arrangements for Commencement?

Reserved seating at Commencement is for graduating seniors, faculty members, guests with special needs, and members of the 50th-year reunion class. Please respect all seating areas that are designated with signage as reserved.

Parents, families and visitors are invited to sit in the open seating sections which include folding chairs and bleacher seating. Seating in these sections is on a first come, first served basis beginning at 8:30 a.m . We recommend you bring your own blankets, stadium cushions or anything else you need to sit comfortably. Please be considerate and only hold the number of seats your party will actually use. Guests are also welcome to bring their own chairs and enjoy the ceremony from the open grassy areas.

Is there seating reserved for mobility-impaired or hearing-impaired guests?

Staff and students serving as event ushers will be available to guide individuals to appropriate seating. Guests in wheelchairs may bring one additional guest to sit with them in the reserved section. A sign language interpreter will be provided at both Baccalaureate and Commencement. To learn more about Accessibility during Commencement weekend, visit the Accessibility page.

What happens if it rains?

The show must go on! If it rains, the Commencement ceremony will continue outdoors as planned. Particpants are encouraged to bring an umbrella or rain gear. In the event of  extreme weather (which is defined as weather that is  unsafe, such as severe winds, hail or lightning) the Commencement ceremony will move indoors. Please click through to familiarize yourself with the  Extreme Weather Plan prior to the event.

Who is the Commencement speaker?

The 2023 Commencement speaker has not been announced.

For more information about past Commencement speakers, please visit the Commencement History section of the website.

How can I purchase copies of professional graduation photos?

Information on purchasing professional graduation photos is available on the Photos page of the Commencement website.

Can family and friends take pictures during the diploma presentation?

Audience members can take stills and videos from their seats but should not approach the stage, stand in the area where graduates exit the stage or enter any part of the path of travel for graduates. This is because the official professional photographer will capture graduates, diploma in hand, coming off the stage. If a graduate sees multiple cameras, they will be distracted, which will negatively impact the photographer's ability to capture the best possible professional shot.

How can someone who is unable to attend in person view the Commencement ceremony?

The Commencement Ceremony will be available as a simultaneous livestream webcast online.

Where can I buy commencement announcements, memorabilia and Whitman College gear?

Please visit the Herff Jones website for all your commencement memorabilia and announcement needs.

The Whitman College Bookstore in Reid Campus Center offers an expansive selection of items, including textbooks, dorm supplies, clothing, and other college essentials. Visit the bookstore on campus or online for all your Whitman College essentials!

More questions? Please call the Office of Conferences, Events and Scheduling at 509-527-5251 or email commencement@whitman.edu.

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