Exercises of Commencement

The Grinnell College Commencement ceremony is traditionally held at 10 a.m. on the Monday before Memorial Day weekend. In 2015, Commencement will be held on Monday, May 18.

The ceremony provides a capstone to a weekend full of concerts, receptions, and other events that showcase and celebrate the achievements of the graduates and their time at Grinnell.

Please call (641) 269-3178 with any questions regarding Commencement Weekend.

Commencement Online

Celebrate the accomplishments of our seniors as they begin their post-Grinnell journeys.

  • The live stream begins at 10 a.m. CDT (GMT -05:00).
  • Follow and join the conversation on Twitter: #CongratsGC2015
  • Share your photos on Instagram: #GrinnellCollege
  • Follow us on Facebook and YouTube for highlights from the day.

Guest Internet access is open on campus from noon Friday, May 15 through Monday, May 18. Connect to GrinnellCollegeCommencement wi-fi; no password is required. For assistance, please contact helpdesk[at]grinnell[dot]edu, 641-269-4400.

Calendar of Events

Friday, May 15

11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Lunch Dining for students and families. Cost is $10.00 (children under 12, $6).Marketplace, Joe Rosenfield Center

5 - 6:30 p.m. Dinner Dining for students and families. Cost is $13.00 (children under 12, $6) Marketplace, Joe Rosenfield Center

Saturday, May 16

11-11:45 a.m. Rehearsal for Commencement Required for all seniors. (Meet in Darby Gym)

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Lunch Dining for students and families. Cost is $10.00 (children under 12, $6).Marketplace, Joe Rosenfield Center

12:30-2:15p.m. Honor G Awards By invitation only.  Herrick Chapel

3:30 - 4:30p.m. Phi Beta Kappa Initiation  By invitation, for initiates only.  Herrick Chapel

5 - 6 p.m. Dinner Dining for students and families. Cost is $13.00 (12 and under, $6). Marketplace, Joe Rosenfield Center

7 p.m. Commencement Vocal Concert Featuring the Grinnell singers and student a capella ensembles.Herrick Chapel 

Sunday, May 17

8-8:30 a.m.  Chariots of Fire  A celebratory run around campus.  West of Younker Hall

9 a.m. - 11 a.m. Baccalaureate Includes short addresses by seniors, faculty and the president.  Honorary class members are announced. Herrick Chapel (overflow seating on Herrick lawn)

10:30 a.m. - Noon Brunch Dining for students and families. Cost is $10.00 (12 and under, $6). Marketplace, Joe Rosenfield Center

12:15-2 p.m. President's Social President Raynard S. Kington welcomes all seniors and their families to a social gathering. Central Campus

2 p.m. Posse Graduation Ceremony A celebration of achievement with Posse students and their families. Room 101, Joe Rosenfield Center Reception following in the Spencer Grill

4:15 p.m. Voluntary Service Send-off Celebrate students doing full-time service work after graduation. Students and families are invited to attend. Room 101, Joe Rosenfield Center

5 p.m. Senior Honors Concert Senior vocal and instrumental musicians perform for families and guests. Sebring-Lewis Hall, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts

5pm-6:30pm OIEL Hors D'oeuvres Reception The Office of Intercultural Engagement and Leadership will host a reception with hors d'oeuvres by invitation only. Joe Rosenfield Room 209 and 2nd floor lobby

6-6:30 p.m. Dinner Dining for students and families. Cost is $13 (12 and under, $6). Marketplace, Joe Rosenfield Center 

7-8:30 p.m. OISA Dessert Reception Hosted by the Office of International Student Affairs.  International student seniors, families, and host families, by invitation only.  Joe Rosenfield '25 Center 101

9:15 p.m.  Observatory Open House  Viewing with the 24" telescope with Professor of Physics, Robert Cadmus.  Guests welcome. Grant O. Gale Observatory

Monday, May 18

9:30 a.m. Carillon Concert College Organist. Central Campus

10 a.m. Exercises of Commencement Central Campus (Bear Recreation and Athletic Center Fieldhouse if inclement weather)

Immediately Following Commencement-- Commencement Picnic Complimentary picnic for seniors, family members, guests, faculty, and staff. The picnic generally goes from noon until 2 p.m., though guests are welcome to linger. Central Campus Lawn (Bear Recreation and Athletic Center if inclement weather)

Traditional Events
  • President's Social Graduates and their families are invited to a reception and social with the President of the college.
  • Commencement Vocal Concert With performances by the Grinnell Singers, and several of the student-led a capella groups, this concert is an hour of enjoyable music. 
  • Senior Showcase A fun-filled event that gives the graduating seniors a change to show off their performing talents. Expect singing, dancing and other activities to fill the stage. 
  • Baccalaureate This non-religious ceremony includes short addresses by two faculty and two members of the senior class and awarding of the honorary class memberships. Faculty and student speakers, as well as honorary class members, are chosen by the graduating class.
  • Honor G Awards A by-invitation event honors athletes for their achievements.  
  • Commencement Picnic Graduates, their families, faculty and staff are invited to join in a picnic following the commencement ceremony. 

Graduation Checklist

  1. Do you have hotel rooms for your family?

         -Reserve Lodging for Family Members Attending Your Graduation
  2. BY MAY 1: Let us know who is coming!

         -Fill out the Senior Reservation Form so we know how much food to order for the Commencement Picnic
  3. BY MAY 1: Order Announcements (optional)
  4. Pick-Up Cap and Gown Available after MAY 4

         -You pick up a cap and gown at the Grinnell College Bookstore or email the Lending Library
  5. BY MAY 16: Mandatory Commencement Rehearsal in Darby Gymnasium
  6. BY MAY 19: Move out of Dorms by 5pm

         -Check the Residence Life Checklist below before leaving your room.
  7. BY MAY 31: Loan Exit Interviews MUST be completed.

         -Failure to complete loan exit interviews will make you ineligible to receive final transcripts.

For more information, please scroll down to Commencement Information for Graduates.

Commencement Information for Visitors

This page is the online information headquarters for Commencement. Most commonly requested information is available on this page. If you have additional questions, please call Conference Operations and Events at (641) 269-3178 or e-mail commencement[at]grinnell[dot]edu


Parking is available on side streets and lots located around the perimeter of campus. Anyone who has difficulty walking should be dropped off at Herrick Chapel on Park Street for both Commencement and Baccalaureate. Illegally parked cars will be ticketed by Safety and Security or the City of Grinnell depending on the location of the vehicle. Complimentary shuttles will be available on Commencement Day from the I-80 hotel cluster (Comfort Inn, Super 8, Days Inn, Country Inn, EconoLodge) to Central Campus. Shuttles will regularly run from early morning to mid-afternoon to accommodate breakfast plans and the post-Commencement all-campus picnic.


Grinnell College is committed to supporting guests with disabilities during Commencement Weekend. Please inform Conference Operations and Events if you have a disability that requires accommodation for participation in an event. For information about handicap accessible parking, ramps, and routes through campus, see: 

Commencement fair weather site

Commencement rain site

Herrick Chapel: Baccalaureate, Phi Beta Kappa induction, Honor G.

  • A handicapped-accessible restroom is located at the northeast entrance to the chapel.
  • Wheelchair seating is available at the front of the Chapel.

Central Campus Lawn: Commencement, post-Commencement picnic.

  • ASL interpretation will be available. Contact Conference Operations and Events for assigned seating with a clear view.
  • Handicapped restrooms are available in Herrick Chapel, the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, and the Robert N. Noyce Science Center.
  • Seating for wheelchairs on the lawn may be made anywhere. Wheelchair users requiring a hard surface or any other accessibility needs, please contact Conference Operations and Events with your request at (641)269-3178.

American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation

  • ASL interpretation will be available at the Exercises of Commencement. With advance notice ASL interpretation may be available for other Commencement Weekend activities.

Large Print Programs Large print programs for any Commencement Weekend activity are available with two weeks advanced notice to Conference Operations and Events (641)269-3178.

Commencement Tickets

Tickets are not required for indoor or outdoor ceremonies.  If any member of your party has special seating needs, please indicate this on the reservation form, and we will provide you with special seating tickets.  Arriving early for an indoor Commencement is advised; for outdoor Commencement this is not necessary. 

All-Campus Picnic The Commencement Picnic follows Commencement. Each senior is asked to check with his or her family and indicate the number of people, including themselves, who will be attending.  You may register by calling the Conference Operations and Events Office at (641) 269-3178, or online here

Area Dining and Housing

Graduating seniors will be allowed to stay in their dormitory rooms until 12 p.m. the Tuesday following Commencement. Siblings attending Grinnell College may submit a written request to stay in the dorms through Commencement, requests must be made to Conference Operations and Events. Housing and dining options are available at many local accommodations and area restaurants.

For local lodging: http://www.grinnell.edu/about/visit/lodging

For local Restaurants: http://www.grinnell.edu/about/visit/restaurants


The junior class will be sponsoring flower sales for graduates at an outdoor tent during Commencement.

Commencement Information for Graduates

Any questions or concerns regarding Commencement activities should be directed to: 

Office of Conference Operations and Events 

Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 


(641) 269-3178 

fax (641) 269-4650 

e-mail commencement[at]grinnell[dot]edu

 Important Dates to Remember
  • Order announcements by May 1
  • Last date for picnic reservations May 1
  • Pick up cap and gown May 4
  • Commencement rehearsal: MANDATORY: Darby Gym 11AM, May 16
  • Last date seniors are allowed in dorms Noon, Tuesday, May 19

If held outside, the ceremony will be at the central campus stage. Folding chairs and bleachers will be set up. If weather forces us inside the ceremony will be held in the Fieldhouse at the Bear Center.

Tickets will not be needed for either ceremony as we have ample seating in both locations.

An email will be sent on the day of commencement if we move inside. In addition, the website will be updated, there will be lots of signs and there won't be any chairs at the Central Campus stage.

Rehearsal: Mandatory Attendance

Saturday May 16 at 11:00 a.m. in Darby Gym. Information about the order of procession and seating will be provided. E-mail [commencement] with any questions.

Line-up and Seating

The line-of-march and seating for seniors is organized by division (Humanities, Science, Social Studies, and Independent Majors). If you are a double major and your majors cross division lines, you will be seated with the division of the major alphabetically first (unless you indicated otherwise on the Registrar's diploma order form). A list will be available at the rehearsal so that we can tell you in which division you are seated. If you have questions, please see a staff member after rehearsal. You will receive a diagram of the line-of-march and the seating areas at rehearsal.

Plan to join the processional line by 9:30 a.m. Monday, May 18 (east of ARH if we're outside; Darby Gym in the Bear Center if we're inside).


The official Grinnell College graduation announcements are made by CB Announcements. Their quality paper, artistic design and beautiful, golden, hand-engraved Grinnell College seal reflect your hard-earned achievement. You may order by phone or online. You will need to know your degree and major. Minors, emphases, concentrations, or honors can be printed on the announcement as well. CB Announcements will work with you if you need to create an announcement in another language. Call CB Announcements at 800-433-0296 or order online at www.cbgrad.balfour.com

Caps and Gowns

The Grinnell College Bookstore sells the caps, gowns and tassels for the commencement ceremony. This year, we are selling "Green Gowns". These gowns are made from recycled beverage bottles. You may keep your gown or recycle it again. The bookstore will be collecting the gowns after the ceremony to be sent back for further recycling. You can also visit http://www.bellaonline.com/subjects/653.asp for all sorts of free patterns to make something out of your greengown®. Links include great ideas to make and donate items for those in need, bag and tote patterns and many other simple sewing ideas.

The bookstore stocks enough sizes that pre-ordering is not needed. Visit the bookstore anytime after May 4 to pick one up. The price for a set that includes a cap, gown and tassel is $30.00. Separate caps and tassels are also available for sale.

Grinnell Textbook Lending Library collects gently used gowns after commencement for future graduates to use at no cost. Students may reserve a "recycled" gown by e-mailing [textbooks]. Borrowed gowns and new donations should be returned to the Rosenfield Center, in the email lounge across from the Spencer Grill, Monday following commencement.

Rehearsal and Line-Up

Watch your e-mail and campus mail for important Commencement announcements.  Rehearsal is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, May 16; all graduating seniors are required to attend. 

Picnic Reservations and Requests for Special Seating

Seniors can enter necessary Commencement information electronically. Enter your name, Commencement Picnic reservation, and any special needs requests on the senior reservation form by May 1.  Important information regarding Commencement will be forwarded to seniors via e-mail.


No tickets are required for either the indoor or the outdoor ceremony this year. We will try to have Commencement outside at all costs even in case of light rain. (Bring rain gear.)  Arriving early for indoor Commencement, held in the field house of the Bear Recreation and Athletic Center, is advised. It is not necessary to arrive early for outdoor Commencement.


Photos of the graduates will be taken on Commencement day and will be available for purchase. More information coming soon

Live Streaming

Commencement will be live-streamed. Go to www.grinnell.edu for the link and more information.

Green Ribbon

The commencement committee for the class of 2015 has elected to give the graduates of this class the opportunity to take part in the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility (www.graduationpledge.org). The pledge is not required, and the individual members of the class decide whether or not to participate. Graduates who elect to take the pledge agree to the following: 

"I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work." 

Given Grinnell's philosophy of self-governance, students do not need to register their participation in this program, and students define for themselves what it means to be socially and environmentally responsible. 

Graduates who elect to take the pledge may also choose to wear a green ribbon on their gown during commencement. Ribbons will be handed out during the graduation rehearsal on Saturday morning, May 16, as well as while you line-up on the morning of commencement. Over the last nine years, approximately 75% of Grinnell graduates have elected to wear the green ribbons during commencement. 

This opportunity is co-sponsored by the Center for Careers, Life, & Service and the Peace Studies Program. More information and resources to help you enact the pledge are available at www.graduationpledge.org, or you may contact Saunia Powell, Assistant Director of Post-Graduate Service, with any questions you have.

Phi Beta Kappa

In the spring semester, Grinnell College's Phi Beta Kappa chapter, Beta of Iowa, selects high achieving third-year and senior students who have met the chapter’s requirements for breadth and depth in their course of study. The chapter initiates the consideration of third-year and seniors for membership without action by the students. Students are notified by the chapter if they are to be offered membership in Phi Beta Kappa.

Loan Exit Interviews

Students with a Federal Perkins Loan or Grinnell College loan must complete an exit interview online. An e-mail will be sent from the Office of the Cashier explaining the procedure. If you fail to complete the interview, you will not have valuable information regarding how to handle these loans after leaving Grinnell College. In addition, you will not be eligible to receive transcripts if the exit interview is not completed. Students with a Federal Stafford Loan must complete online exit counseling. Students with specific questions who prefer a face to face meeting may schedule an in person group session. The Office of Student Financial Aid will send information to borrowers in April. The packet will include a summary of indebtedness, instructions on completing the requirement online and group session times.

Final Transcripts

The registrar will not be able to finalize (the degree, major, and honors) transcripts for graduating seniors until the end of June. If you request transcripts in June, please tell us to hold the request until the degree has been noted on the transcripts; transcripts sent in early June will not show your final degree. Students who have not completed their graduation requirements will receive diploma covers but no diploma at Commencement. Return the cover to us after Commencement and provide an address where we can mail the diploma and cover when requirements are completed and we have finalized your transcript.

If you are unable to attend Commencement, please contact the Office of the Registrar with contact and mailing information.

Residence Life Checklist


[ ] You must check out of your room by NOON on TUESDAY, following Commencement.

[ ] Schedule a time to check out of your room with your RLC. Students who do not check out with their RLC forfeit their opportunity to appeal damage/excessive cleaning charges.

[ ] Be sure all College-owned furniture is present and set up in your room. 

[ ] To avoid excessive cleaning and other charges, be sure to:

  • Sweep your floor, but do NOT sweep debris into the hallway.
  • Bag and remove all garbage from your room, common areas, and hallways.
  • Take all garbage to a dumpster, located outside the residence halls.
  • Take all your belongings, including your bicycle, with you when you leave.

[ ] To receive credit for your key deposit, your key must be returned to your RLC in a tan key return envelope, labeled with your name and residency assignment. Key return envelopes are available from your RLC.

[ ] Refer to the flyers posted in your residence hall or campus house for the following important closing information: 

  • Date/time items must be claimed from residence hall trunk rooms.
  • Rented loft and microfridge return dates, times, locations.
  • Donate/recycle information and instructions.

[ ] Donate textbooks and graduation caps and gowns to the Grinnell Textbook Lending Library, located in Read Pit.


With the move to Office 365, graduating seniors and ninth semester students will continue to have email for life using your Grinnell College Office 365 email account. Network access to storage will be available for six-months following commencement. You may modify passwords or check account status at https://passwordreset.grinnell.edu. Please make sure you are able to access the server prior to leaving campus. All borrowed equipment signed out from the AV Center must be returned. Your account will be charged for replacement costs if not returned, which could put a hold on your records. If you would like copies of previously recorded academic digital works, theatre performances, or music recitals, please bring the original media and one DVD-R to the AV Center for a copy. The original media will be held by the department or may already be at the AV Center. Copies must be requested at least two weeks before the end of the semester due to the high volume of requests.

The Office of Development and Alumni Relations

The Office of Development and Alumni Relations offers a number of tools to graduates. Networking and connecting with other alumni is one of the best ways to achieve postgraduate goals. The Forum (http://forum.grinnell.edu) is the alumni online community, which will allow Grinnellians to connect with each other and stay in touch with Grinnell. On the Forum, you can network with classmates or Grinnellians through directories and discussion boards. You can read about and register for regional events, class and affinity Reunions, and most importantly, you can update your contact information and submit news about milestones- family, education, and career- so as to stay connected with the Grinnell community after you leave campus. Grinnell activities, from happy hours to professional networking events, are organized in over 30 cities across the country and we'd love to make sure you know how to connect with Grinnell wherever you land next year.

Senior Class Gift

Stephen Kent '67, a member of the Alumni Council and a Class Fund Director, started the Senior Class Gift in 1988 to introduce seniors to Grinnell's tradition of generous alumni giving. He initiated the tradition by giving an additional $5 to the annual fund (now the Pioneer Fund) for every graduating senior who participated in the 1988 Senior Class Gift. He also gave an additional $500 to the annual fund because the class of 1988, with 54 percent participation, had surpassed Kent's class in participation. The Senior Class Gift was renamed the Stephen K. Kent '67 Memorial Senior Class Gift after Kent's death in 1989. In the second year of the Gift, more than 50% of seniors gave for a total of over $1,400. In addition, the Alumni Council offers a dollar-for-dollar match for every senior who makes a gift to Grinnell. 

The Stephen K. Kent ’67 Memorial Senior Class Gift initiates a long-term commitment to Grinnell. The Gift allows students to honor their four-year journey, to express the joy and pride they feel toward Grinnell in a tangible way, and begin to build mature philanthropic relationships that will last throughout their lives. Outstanding programs and academics ensure excellent students continue to come to study at Grinnell. Alumni, parents, and friends provide resources ensuring Grinnell excellence is a reality. Participation in the Stephen K. Kent ’67 Memorial Senior Class Gift acknowledges the generosity of preceding classes and the responsibility each member of the class of 2015 has to future classes.

Campus Phone Numbers
  • Bookstore 641-269-3424
  • Campus Switchboard 641-269-4000
  • Center for Careers, Life, and Service 641-269-4940
  • Development and Alumni Relations 641-269-1846
  • Conference Operations and Events 641-269-3235
  • Dining Services 641-269-3661
  • Financial Aid 641-269-3250
  • Information Technology Services 641-269-4400
  • Mail Services 641-269-3421
  • Registrar 641-269-3450
  • Security 641-269-4600
  • Student Affairs 641-269-3700

Any questions or concerns regarding Commencement activities should be directed to: Office of Conference Operations and Events Grinnell College Grinnell, IA 50112-1690 (641) 269-3178 fax (641) 269-4650 e-mail commencement[at]grinnell[dot]edu

Conference Operations & Events website