Five things to know about Commencement

Graduates applaud after receiving their bachelor’s degrees at Commencement in Stanford Stadium.

Stanford has already begun getting ready for Commencement Weekend 2017, which will be held June 17 and 18. The event will attract some 30,000 people to campus, so families are encouraged to plan their visit early. Here are five things families might want to know as they prepare for the big event.

Who is giving the Commencement speech?

Mariano-Florentino “Tino” Cuéllar, associate justice of the Supreme Court of California and a Stanford alumnus, will be the Commencement speaker on Sunday, June 18. The speaker during Baccalaureate, which is held the day before on Saturday, will be Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Mariano-Florentino “Tino” Cuéllar

Cuéllar has an inspiring story. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico and graduated from Calexico High School in California’s Imperial County on the border with Mexico. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, a JD from Yale and a PhD in political science from Stanford. He was a member of the Stanford faculty and director of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies before begin nominated by California Gov. Jerry Brown to the state’s highest court in 2014.

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne has called Cuéllar the “embodiment of the American success story.”

Learn more about both speakers here.

What is the one piece of advice every family should get before coming to campus?

If a member of your family is disabled or has mobility concerns, we strongly, strongly encourage you to plan in advance by visiting the Disability Resources page on our website. There is a form to request special assistance. For specific concerns or questions, contact Stanford’s Diversity and Access Office at

We cannot emphasize this advice too much. The campus is very large, and Commencement Weekend tends to involve a great deal of walking. We’ve seen families struggle with mobility issues during Commencement Weekend, and we are unfortunately limited in what we can do if asked to respond on the day of events.

Many families may, for instance, find it easiest to use a wheelchair to transport a disabled family member from one location to another. In any case, the Diversity & Access Office can help families plan the best routes beforehand.

Marian Wright Edelman

Is there any limit to the number of family members who can attend the main graduation ceremony?

No. There is plenty of room for everyone in Stanford Stadium. But families should be aware that there is very little shade in Stanford Stadium and that the audience is seated facing the sun. Temperatures can climb into the 80s and 90s, so we urge that everyone dress in comfortable shoes and clothing, and bring sunscreen, a hat and water. Limited food and beverages are also available for purchase in the stadium. Unfortunately, umbrellas are not allowed because they impede the view of others in the stadium.

Although there are no tickets for the main ceremony, there may be for the diploma ceremonies, which are held right after Commencement throughout campus. Families should check with their graduate’s department about whether or not its ceremony requires a ticket or an RSVP.

Where can we park?

During Baccalaureate on Saturday, parking is available on the streets that intersect Palm Drive and in the many visitor lots throughout campus. Parking for Baccalaureate guests with state-issued disability parking placards or plates or Stanford-issued temporary disabled parking permits will be available at the Palm Drive Oval.

During Commencement on Sunday, parking is available in the lots surrounding the stadium, but it is limited, and some of the lots require a permit. It’s best to plan in advance by visiting the Parking and Transportation page.

The campus will be very crowded throughout both days, and there will be a great deal of traffic congestion. The easiest way to get around the many events is by walking, so comfortable clothing and shoes are strongly recommended.

When should families make travel arrangements?

Consider making hotel reservations as soon as possible. Visit the Travel and Lodging page for ideas about where to stay. There are a limited number of hotels in the immediate Palo Alto area, so reservations can be challenging if you make them at the last minute.

Visit the Commencement Weekend website to read all about the festivities. For more answers to frequently asked questions about Commencement Weekend, including about security requirements, see the FAQ page.