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Frequently Asked Questions

Information for families, friends, & guests

What is the Senior Recognition Celebration?

It is a ceremony held the day after official graduation, where each graduate is recognized individually and presented with a University of Massachusetts commemorative medal. 

Family and friends of our graduates watch members of the Class of 2017 process to their seats.  Following remarks by the Dean of the College, commemorative medals are presented to each student.  Faculty members from each department and program give a brief introduction, after which the name of graduates are read as they are presented with a medal and congratulated by the Dean. Every student will receive a medal and have their picture taken by the professional photographers hired by the university.


Doesn’t graduation take place on Friday evening?

Yes, Commencement, the University’s official graduation ceremony, will take place on Friday, May 12, 2017 in McGuirk Alumni Stadium beginning at 4:30 p.m.   At that time, degrees are officially conferred one college or degree-granting unit at a time.  Since the entire Class of 2017 is too large to allow for recognition of each student at Commencement, the University's colleges hold their own ceremonies where there is an opportunity for individual recognition.


Who can participate in the Senior Recognition Ceremony?

Students who are eligible to participate in the May 2017 Commencement ceremony may attend the Senior Recognition ceremony.  To do so, students must have fulfilled all graduation requirements by the time of the ceremony or be scheduled to do so by September 2017, i.e. students who complete or are on track to complete their requirements between Fall 2016 through Summer 2017. Students anticipating a February 2018 graduation date amd who wish to attend the May 2017 ceremony may petition to do so by filing the “Petition to Participate in an Earlier Commencement” form available at the Registrar’s Office in 213 Whitmore.


Where and when does it take place?

The College of Humanities and Fine Arts Senior Recognition Ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 13, 2017 beginning promptly at 1:00 p.m.

It will take place at the Recreation Center in the large gymnasium/track space on the upper level.  The Recreation Center is located across Commonwealth Avenue from the Mullins Center (the green-roofed building that's home to Minuteman basketball and ice hockey) and across Hicks Way from Commonwealth Honors College Residential Campus.

161 Commonwealth Avenue
Amherst, MA 01003 

Out of consideration for those attending the College of Engineering ceremony at the Recreation Center that takes place before ours, and to allow time for us to prepare, please arrive after 11:30 a.m.  Although seating is on a “first come, first serve” basis, be assured that a seat will be available for all who wish to attend.  Those in attendance may also watch the event from designated areas on the track that forms a mezzanine above the gym floor.  The celebration will conclude at approximately 2:30 p.m.
The College of Information and Computer Science Senior Recognition Ceremony will follow HFA's.  While there is no need to exit the building immediately after the ceremony, we appreciate your cooperation in allowing the them to begin setting up the space for their ceremony soon after ours has ended.


How many guests are each student allowed? Do they need tickets?

There is no limit on the number of guests accompanying each graduate and no tickets are required.  3,500 folding chairs will be available for graduates (up to 500 of them) and their guests.  Seating is not reserved, except for guests with limited mobility and the sections set aside for our graduates.  Chairs not needed by faculty and graduates will be opened to general seating just before the ceremony begins. 


How do we get there?  Where do we park?

The Commencement: Traveling to Campus webpage can help those who need directions to campus.  Although traffic should be less congested on Saturday than is typical on Friday, graduates and their guests should plan to arrive well in advance of any events they plan to attend.

Shuttle buses will run approximately every 12 minutes between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., stopping at or near Senior Recognition Ceremony locations.  A route map will be added to the Commencement: Shuttles and Maps webpage.
Parking lots 25 and 12 are most convenient to the Recreation Center. (see quadrant A3 on the Detailed Campus Map or a site-specific map).
We respectfully request that spaces located in the PayStation lot adjacent to the Recreation Center be used only by vehicles bringing guests with impaired mobility. 
Parking across campus is free on May 12th and 13th.


Are there stairs?  Is there an elevator?

The Recreation Center has three levels.  The HFA ceremony will take place on the second floor.  Guests who enter through the Commonwealth Avenue doors may take one of two elevators up to the gymnasium.  The larger elevator is located across from the center’s membership and information desk and the other is on your left as you face the open-stair seating area.

The gymnasium can be accessed most easily through the doors at the back of the Recreation Center, i.e. the entrace facing the heart of campus and closest to the paystation portion of lot 64. This lot has no physical barriers to negotiate and it is exclusively for handicapped parking.  While official handicapped parking stickers, license plates, and placards are not required, your cooperation in making sure these spaces are used only by those who need them most is appreciated. 

A small number of seats will be specifically designated for those who have mobility challenges. These seats will be located on the north side of the gym nearest the cafe and lot 64 entrance.  You can see a map of the gymnasium floorplan.  They will be in the first row after an access aisle that is approximately two-thirds of the way back from the ceremony platform.  One companion may accompany each guest seated here. Because seats at this venue are all located on a single floor, guests who use a wheelchair, walker, or other assistive device often prefer to sit with family members rather than in the designated area.

Advance notice is helpful, but not required, to use the seats reserved for those with limited mobility. If there is someone in your party who should be seated in this area, please send an email to: commencement@hfa.umass.edu


Are other accommodations available?

Requests for any of the services available at all other university commencement ceremonies are available at senior recognition ceremonies.  Information and instructions are described on the page linked to the Commencement "Accessibility" tab.  Please note that service requests should be submitted no later than April 14, 2017.


What should participants and visitors wear?

Graduates should dress in commencement caps and gowns. Families and friends should dress in comfortable clothing and shoes.  Although the Recreation Center has air-conditioning, the large number of people in the building will cause the temperature to rise over the course of the day.  Layers are always a good choice.


Can we take pictures?

Of course. When doing so, please be aware and considerate of those around you.  Do not block the aisles or interfere with the professional photographers or ceremony participants.
A professional photographer will be at the ceremony to take photographs of each graduate. The photography company will contact students directly after the ceremony.


Is food available?

A limited menu will be available from the Courtside Café at the Recreation Center.  The Cafe's menu includes grab-n-go sandwiches, wraps & salads, and a variety of beverages and smoothies.  A full range of dining options is available in The Blue Wall, the food-court located on the Campus Center's  lower level.  The Berkshire, Hampshire, and Franklin Dining Commons will be open throughout Commencement Weekend.