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Frequently Asked Questions

Senior Recognition Ceremony Information for families, friends, & guests

Tickets are not required

What is the Senior Recognition Celebration?

It is a ceremony held in addition to the official commencement/graduation ceremony.  It is a college-based celebration where each graduate is recognized individually and presented with a University of Massachusetts commemorative medal. 

Family and friends watch as members of this year's graduating class process to their seats to music performed by our brass quintet.  The ceremony begins with welcoming and congratulatory remarks by the Dean of the College.  Faculty members from each department offer a few words after which the name of the 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, which is the University’s official graduation ceremony, will take place on Friday, May 10, 2019 in McGuirk Alumni Stadium beginning at 4:30 p.m.   At that time, degrees are officially conferred one college at a time, although each student's diploma will be sent to the permanent address on record with the University at the end of the summer.  Since the entire Class of 2019 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 eligible to participate in the May 2019 Commencement ceremony may attend the Senior Recognition ceremony.  Eligibility is determined by fulfillment of all graduation requirements by the time of the ceremony or expectations that this will occur by September 2019, i.e. students who complete or are on track to complete all requirements between Fall 2018 and Summer 2019.

Students anticipating a February 2020 graduation date who would prefer to attend the May 2019 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.  This must be done in person at the Registrar's Office.


Where and when does it take place?

The College of Humanities and Fine Arts Senior Recognition Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 10, 2019 beginning promptly at 1:30 p.m.

It will take place at the Recreation Center in the large gymnasium 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 

Doors will open 12:00 noon and you are welcome to enter the ceremony space then.  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 stand to watch the event from designated areas on the track above the gym floor.  The celebration will conclude no later than 3:30 p.m., and we will make an effort to finish before then so you will have plenty of time to get to McGuirk Stadium.


How do we get there?  Where do we park?

The Commencement: Traveling to Campus webpage can help those who need directions to campus.  Traffic will be heavy, although the University and its security services do an excellent job helping to keep it moving.

Shuttle buses will begin running at 2:00 p.m. and continue through 8:00 p.m., stopping at or near the Recreation Center and at McGuirk Stadium.  A route map will be available on 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 throughout Commencement Weekend.


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

There is no limit on the number of guests per graduate and tickets are not required.  Approximately 2,800 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.  Seats not needed for faculty and graduates will be opened to general seating once the graduates are seated. 


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 from Commonwealth Avenue 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 bleacher-like 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 designated 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 few seats will be designated for those who have limited mobility. These seats will be located on the north side of the gym close to the cafe and at the ends of rows in the sections numbered 1 and 2 on the floorplan.  One companion may accompany each guest seated in these locations.  Because seats at this venue are all on a single floor, guests who use a wheelchair or walker may prefer to sit together with family members rather than in the handicap-designated seate.  

Advance notice is helpful, but not required, to use 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?

Services available at all other university commencement ceremonies are available at senior recognition ceremonies.  Information and instructions to make arrangements for them are described on the Accessibility Information page under the Plan Your Visit tab on the Commencement homepage

Service requests must be submitted by April 19, 2019.


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 is a small facility and will have a limited menu.  A full range of dining options will be available in The Blue Wall, the food-court located on the Campus Center's  lower level.  The Berkshire, Hampshire, and Worcester Dining Commons will be open throughout Commencement Weekend.