Commencement Information for Guests

Tips for helping to plan your visit for this momentous occasion.

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.

Welcome Center

Donovan’s Pub, James C. Colgate Hall
Friday | 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Saturday | 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

  • Schedule and Event Map
  • Information Table
  • On-campus Housing Check-in

Where to Stay

On-Campus Lodging

Colgate offers on-campus guest lodging Friday and Saturday night of commencement weekend for a modest cost. 

This affordable, smoke-free, pet-free option allows you to experience a residential stay similar to your student’s experience. While these spaces do not offer the amenities found in a hotel, their convenience to on-campus events makes them popular housing options. 

Reservations for the 2024 commencement weekend are closed.

Regional Lodging

Visit the Hotels & Accommodations page for options in the region. Venues closest to campus fill up quickly, so make your reservations as early as possible.

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.

On Campus

The Coop (O'Connor Campus Center)

Guests are welcome to purchase meals in the Coop. No reservation is necessary.

Brunch 10 a.m.–2 p.m., $14 (includes tax)
Dinner 4:30–7:30 p.m., $15 (includes tax)

Breakfast 8–11 a.m., $14 (includes tax)

Picnic and Beverage Policy

Graduates may hold 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 families and graduates will be able to attend these universitywide events:

  • Commencement Dinner (Friday 5:30–7:30 p.m.)
  • Baccalaureate Service (Saturday 3:30–4:30 p.m.; graduates line up at 3 p.m.)
  • Torchlight Procession & President's Reception (Saturday 8:30–10:30 p.m.; graduates line up at 7:45)
  • Commencement Ceremony (Sunday 10:30 a.m.; graduates line up at 9:30)

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.

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.

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.


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

Pet Policy

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

Professional Ceremony Photography

Official 2024 ceremony photos will be provided by Island Photography. Representatives will be taking pictures during the commencement ceremony and Senior Torchlight Procession. 

During the ceremony, each graduate will be photographed as they cross the stage to accept their diploma. These images will be made available to you by email 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.

Graduation Gifts

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

Graduation Announcements

Announcements can be ordered online from Jostens.

More Questions?

General Commencement Info

University Events:; 315-228-4444