Commencement Information for Guests

Family and Guest Information

Tips for helping to plan your visit for this momentous occasion. All events during commencement weekend are optional for parents and families.

General Information

  • All events during commencement weekend are optional for parents and families.
  • The commencement ceremony runs for approximately 2½ hours.
  • There is no dress code. Attendees are encouraged to consider the weather and wear what is comfortable for them.

Meals and Dining

The Friday Commencement Dinner and the Saturday morning academic reception are free of charge and open to all graduates and their guests. 

Some specific programs also schedule receptions or dinners on Saturday. Other than that, meals are on your own, and reservations closest to campus fill up quickly, so make reservations or other plans as soon as you can.

Frank Dining Hall

Guests are welcome to purchase meals in Frank Dining Hall. No reservation is necessary.

Brunch 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., $13.50 (includes tax)
Dinner 4:30 - 7:30 p.m., $15.75 (includes tax)

Breakfast 8 a.m.–11 a.m., $13.50 (includes tax)

Local Dining

Visit for options in Hamilton. Other options are restaurants in the greater region, such as in Bouckville, Canastota, Cazenovia, Chittenango, Morrisville, Norwich, Oneida, Sherburne, Syracuse, Utica, Verona, or Waterville. 

Restaurants fill up quickly, so be sure to call ahead, and make reservations as soon as you can.

In addition, the Hamilton Price Chopper Super Center offers groceries, grab-and-go meal solutions, and catering.

Picnics on Campus

Graduating seniors may hold small private picnics in designated locations on University-owned property. We ask that these gatherings not be scheduled during the commencement dinner, baccalaureate service, Torchlight Procession, and commencement ceremony. See Picnic and Beverage Policy below for more information.


Colgate strives to provide an experience that is accessible to all guests. Visit the Accessibility for Commencement page for information.

Getting to Colgate

For directions to campus, visit the Maps & Travel page.

From and To Airport, Bus, and Train Stations

Colgate’s On-Demand Shuttle service offers commencement guests easy, affordable, and safe transport to and from Hancock International Airport and the bus and train stations in Syracuse and Utica.

Getting Around Campus and In Town

See the Campus Map for event sites.

Colgate Cruiser

Colgate provides the free Colgate Cruiser shuttle service around Hamilton and the University campus, open to students and the public for navigating the campus and the Hamilton business district.


During commencement weekend, all parking lots are open for general use (by visitors and guests) with the exception of those designated as ADA accessible spots. Campus Safety does not require visitor passes during commencement weekend.

See the Campus Map for parking lots and ADA accessible spots.

Pet Policy

For the safety of your pet and all guests, please leave your pet at home. Only service animals specifically trained to assist a person with a disability are permitted on campus during commencement weekend. 

Picnic and Beverage Policy

Graduates may have small private picnics during commencement weekend adjacent to their residence halls, University-owned student housing on Broad and College streets, and Townhouses. 

We ask that these gatherings not be scheduled during the following time slots to ensure that that families and graduates will be able to attend these universitywide events:

  • Commencement Dinner (Friday evening)
  • Baccalaureate Service (Saturday mid-afternoon)
  • Torchlight Procession (Saturday 8:30 p.m. (graduates line up at 7:45)
  • Commencement Ceremony (Sunday morning)

Free-standing canopies may be used; however, stakes and tents are not permitted. The campus policy prohibiting open containers will remain in place, with the exception of the specific location of the picnic. Kegs are not permitted on University property at any time.

Graduation Gifts

The Colgate Bookstore offers a number of suitable gifts for a graduate.


Bouquets for your graduate may be purchased at the commencement site on the morning of the ceremony. To place an order in advance, contact Wildflowers at 607-591-6137.

Graduation Announcements

Announcements can be ordered online from Jostens.

Professional Photography

Representatives from Island Photography will be taking pictures during the commencement ceremony as the graduates walk the stage to receive their diplomas. These images will be made available to those who sign up for a link within 48 hours after the ceremony and 3 to 5 days by U.S. mail. There is no obligation to purchase.

  • Up to 6 family members or friends can register for a photo link in advance. There is absolutely no obligation to purchase. 
  • Within 48–72 hours after the ceremony, you will be emailed a unique link to view or order your images from your celebration. 

Further information: or 800-869-0908.

More Questions?

General Commencement Info

University Events:; 315-825-9322