Stanford’s 122nd Commencement to be June 14-16

Stanford's Commencement is held in Stanford Stadium.
Stanford’s Commencement is held in Stanford Stadium.

Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, will be the 2013 graduation speaker at Stanford during Commencement exercises on Sunday, June 16. Commencement Weekend events begin Friday, June 14.

The weekend festivities will also feature a Class Day lecture by Mehran Sahami, associate professor of computer science and a former Google research scientist. The Baccalaureate address will be give by Valarie Kaur, an award-winning filmmaker, civil rights advocate and interfaith organizer. The Class Day lecture and Baccalaureate are both on Saturday.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Families are encouraged to make travel arrangements well in advance, given the large number of people—25,000 to 30,000—Commencement attracts.

Elaine Enos, executive director of the Office of Special Events and Protocol, answers questions for parents and family members about Stanford’s Commencement Weekend.

What is the most important piece of advice you have for parents and family members coming to Commencement?
Please make hotel reservations as soon as possible if you have not already done so. There are a limited number of hotels in the Palo Alto area near the university. The Commencement website has links to information about hotels throughout the Bay Area.

In terms of attire, we suggest bringing lightweight clothing for the weekend’s events since the majority of the activities will be held outdoors. Be prepared for warm weather. Temperatures during the day can range from 75 degrees to the low 90s, and the sun that time of year can be very strong. We also strongly recommend hats, visors and sunblock, especially for the Commencement ceremony itself. Water will generally be available at the ceremonies, but we urge you to bring additional drinking water to have with you, especially if you will be walking around campus.

Also, wear comfortable shoes. General transportation within the campus grounds is not always available. Marguerite shuttle buses do not run on Saturday and Sunday. Much of the center of campus is closed to vehicular traffic, and the campus is large. Some venues have parking lots nearby, such as the Stanford Stadium for the main Commencement ceremony. We suggest that you visit diploma ceremony links and review where you need to be in relation to where you can park. All venues can be accessed on foot, but please allow extra time to get to and from events.

What if families have a member who has difficulty walking?
We strongly encourage families with disabled members or those with mobility concerns to plan in advance by visiting the Disability Resources page on our website. There is a form to request special assistance. We can also offer advice about finding wheelchair-accessible hotels, for instance.

I cannot stress this enough: Families need to plan their campus activities early and before they arrive at Stanford if they have a member with mobility challenges. We are limited in what we can do if asked to respond on the day of the events. It’s very important that families contact us and discuss their needs in advance.

For instance, many families may find it easiest to use a wheelchair to transport a disabled family member from one location to another. For most families in general, it is simply a matter of allowing for more time or finding alternate parking spaces after the main Commencement ceremony concludes in the stadium. Either way, families should plan well in advance and be in touch with us. The distance between events can be considerable, and even if we could transport everyone, most of the ceremonies occur in areas that are not accessible to vehicles. Visit the website for specific parking details regarding Baccalaureate, the stadium and the diploma ceremonies.

Is there any limit to the number of family members who can attend?
No. There is plenty of room in the Stanford Stadium for everyone who wants to come. No tickets are required to attend the main ceremony. However, please check with the graduate’s department, as some diploma ceremonies may have limited seating or require tickets.

Why are there two ceremonies—the main one in the stadium and then a second, departmental ceremony somewhere else?
The main stadium ceremony has such a high number of graduates that it doesn’t allow for the awarding of individual diplomas to students. That happens at the smaller departmental diploma ceremonies, which occur right after the main ceremony. These ceremonies are located all around the campus, with the core of them in or near the Main Quad. They provide a more intimate experience for students with their families and faculty members.

When you enter the Stanford Stadium on Sunday morning, you will be given an event program. On the back page of that program, you will find a list of all the diploma ceremony sites, as well as a campus map with corresponding ceremony locations. There will also be information booths along your route to the diploma ceremonies, and our staff can assist you in finding your way.

Is there enough parking so that families can drive to the stadium for Commencement?
Parking is available—but limited—for the Commencement ceremony on Sunday. It’s best to plan in advance by downloading the Commencement parking map available online. The campus will be very crowded throughout the day. Another critical issue will be traffic congestion, particularly after the main ceremony has concluded. The easiest way to get around the many events is by walking. For some families, that may not possible, so we strongly encourage planning in advance to review alternate parking lots near the diploma ceremony they plan to attend. The newly designed website contains maps with locations and parking information as well. Please check out our recently posted e-brochure on the Commencement homepage that has additional notes in brief about planning your weekend here.

How do you explain the Wacky Walk to families who have never experienced this Stanford tradition?
Instead of the processional march that one generally sees at university graduations, Stanford seniors take to the field through what’s become known as the “Wacky Walk.” It includes some walking, some running and some parading around. Students create their own events and characters on the field for about 15 minutes. The antics, often creative and funny, have become part of the Commencement tradition over the years.

For answers to more questions about Commencement, visit the Commencement website and note the “For Parents” section, call the Commencement information line at 650-725-1957 or email us at