What you should know about Commencement Weekend

Graduates at Stanford Baccalaureate, which is held on the Main Quadrangle the day before Commencement.

Stanford is preparing to welcome some 30,000 family members and other visitors for Commencement Weekend, which is June 13 to 16. Here are some things families might find useful to know in advance about Stanford’s graduation.

You will need a clear bag to enter Stanford Stadium.

Clear tote bagFor safety reasons, family and friends can only bring approved clear bags into Stanford Stadium for the Commencement ceremony on Sunday. There will be a complimentary bag check station at Cobb Track/Angell Field for bags that don’t satisfy the clear bag policy. In addition, clear bags will be distributed at Guest Services tents near the parking lots and outside of the gates at the stadium. The Stanford Bookstore and Athletics Shop will also sell clear bags before and during Commencement Weekend. Or, you can use a one-gallon clear Ziploc bag. Learn more about the policy.

If your family includes someone with mobility issues, plan in advance.

The Stanford campus is quite large, the events are spread out and driving to and from events will be very difficult. Walking is the best way to get around. So, if a member of your family has mobility concerns, we strongly, strongly encourage you to plan in advance by visiting the Disability Resources page on our website. The deadline to submit requests for disability-related accommodations is May 31. We cannot emphasize this advice enough. And even if you do not have mobility issues, we recommend that you wear comfortable shoes.

Maples Pavilion will be an indoor, air-conditioned location with live streaming.

It can get hot, but there is an air-conditioned, indoor alternative.

There is very little shade in Stanford Stadium, and the audience is seated facing the sun. Temperatures can climb into the 80s and 90s, so we urge everyone to dress in comfortable clothing, and bring sunscreen, a hat and water. Bottled water, as well as multiple water refill stations, will be available to guests at the stadium. If you plan to bring your own water, single-use plastic bottles must be sealed and 20 oz. or under and your refillable plastic bottles must be empty. Limited food and beverages are also available for purchase in the stadium. Unfortunately, umbrellas are not allowed.

Nearby Maples Pavilion will be used as an indoor, air-conditioned location with live streaming of the event so that those having difficulties with the sun and heat can find relief. No tickets are required there. It’ll be first come/first served, but there will be a lot of available seating there, including disability seating.

Best to make travel arrangements as soon as possible.

You should especially consider making hotel reservations as soon as possible. There are limited hotel accommodations in Palo Alto and the neighboring communities. Visit the lodging page for ideas about where to stay. The Commencement web pages include pages suggesting how to get to campus, where to eat on campus and where to park.

There’s plenty of room in Stanford Stadium.

You don’t need a ticket to get into the stadium.

There is plenty of room for everyone in Stanford Stadium for the Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, so there is no need for tickets. There may be a need for tickets, however, 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.

The diplomas are distributed at individual diploma ceremonies not at Commencement.

That brings us to the diploma ceremonies. Following the Commencement ceremony on Sunday morning, graduates receive their diplomas during individual school and department ceremonies located throughout campus. Most of those ceremonies begin at 12:30 p.m., however start times may vary. Many of the ceremonies conclude by 3:30 p.m. and are followed by brief receptions. The Commencement program will have a map and list of the locations of each individual diploma ceremony.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is the Commencement speaker.

Tim Cook
Tim Cook is Stanford’s 2019 Commencement speaker.

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, will be the 2019 Commencement speaker. Cook joined Apple in 1998, and the company’s board of directors named him CEO in August 2011. He has used his position as one of the world’s most prominent executives to speak up on privacy, advance tools to empower users with data about their screen time and address other implications of emerging technology.

Commencement Weekend also includes Baccalaureate.

Baccalaureate is a multifaith, end of the year celebration for graduating students, their families and friends, and others in the university community. It will be held on the Saturday before Commencement on the university’s Main Quad from 10 to 11 a.m. Baccalaureate is considered a bookend to student’s Opening Convocation held four years earlier. It is a student-led commemoration that acknowledges the spiritual contribution to the education of the whole person.

Parking is available but challenging during Commencement Weekend.

Parking for the Baccalaureate ceremony on Saturday will be available on the streets that intersect Palm Drive and in many visitor lots throughout campus. Parking for Commencement on Sunday will be available in the parking lots surrounding the stadium.

Diploma ceremony sites may be located some distance from the stadium. So if you have to move your car to a new location between ceremonies, you should plan your time accordingly and use caution given the amount of pedestrian traffic on campus during Commencement Weekend. After Commencement, there will be limited shuttle service between the Commencement parking area and locations along Serra Mall that are likely closer to the diploma ceremonies.

What if it rains.
Commencement is scheduled to occur rain or shine. In the unlikely event of severe inclement weather, Stanford will post information on the Commencement Weekend homepage. Information will also be available on the university home page and via Stanford’s KZSU (90.1 FM).

Visit the Commencement webpages for more.