Commencement Information for Parents and Families


General Information

All events during commencement weekend are optional for parents and families. Most families choose to arrive on campus on the Friday of commencement weekend.

There is no dress code, and attendees are encouraged to consider the weather and wear what is comfortable for them. Note that events occur in locations across the campus, and comfortable footwear may be a necessity.

The commencement ceremony itself runs for approximately 2½ hours.

Ceremony Tickets

In the event that inclement weather forces the ceremony indoors, tickets will be needed for admission to Sanford Field House. Each senior may request up to five (5) tickets and will be instructed on how to do so in early February.

Additional tickets may be available after the deadline; seniors can contact Michele Carney at in late April to inquire.

Closed-circuit viewing of the ceremony will be available for additional family members who would like to attend the event, or for guests who do not want to sit outside for the ceremony.

Senior Dinner

A dinner will be held for all graduates and their guests the Friday night of  commencement weekend. Seniors are asked to RSVP on behalf of their families when they reserve their commencement ceremony tickets in early February.

A Cappella Concerts

Admission to a cappella concerts is on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets will not be issued or required.


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

Accessible parking is located in the Alumni Lot for events taking place in the Chapel, and the Case-Geyer Library Lot and Lally Lane for the Senior Torchlight Procession and senior dinner. If the commencement ceremony takes place at the Taylor Lake site, accessible parking will be at Lally Lane and 113 Broad Street; if in Sanford Field House (severe weather location), parking will be in the lots surrounding Reid Athletic Center. If you need special drop-off arrangements, please see a campus safety officer for assistance. For safety reasons, we ask that there be no drop-offs on Broad Street (NY State Hwy 12B).

Parking for RV's is available in the following parking lots: General Use, Merrill House, College Street Apartments, and the Townhouse Apartments. There are no provisions for utility hookups. 

Picnic and Beverage Policy

Graduating seniors may have private picnics during commencement weekend in designated locations on university-owned property: adjacent to residence halls, university-owned student housing on Broad and College streets, and Townhouses, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday during commencement weekend. Free-standing canopies may be used; however, stakes and tents are not permitted. The prohibition on open containers will remain in place, with the exception of the specific location of the picnic during these designated time frames. Kegs are not permitted on University property at any time.

Graduation Announcements

Announcements can be ordered online from Jostens.


Official 2020 commencement photos will be provided by Island Photography. Each graduate will be photographed three times. These images will be made available to you by email within 48 hours after the ceremony and 3 to 5 days by US mail. There is no obligation to purchase.

To ensure you receive the link to your photos, register here prior to the ceremony.

Graduation Gifts

Colgate Bookstore

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.

Yearbooks (Salmagundi)

Information about the 2020 Salmagundi is pending.

Baccalaureate Service

The baccalaureate service invites the graduates, joined by their families and faculty and staff members, to hear comments from the recipient of the Jerome Balmuth Award for Teaching and Student Engagement, the senior class’s 1819 Award winner, and the University president. Graduating seniors offer readings from Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, humanist, Christian, and Buddhist traditions, and student groups present musical and dance selections. The gathering offers both reflection for, as well as a farewell to, the graduating Colgate class.

Limited seating for parents and families is available for the Baccalaureate Service. Families who wish to attend should arrive early, but seating is not guaranteed. Additional seating will be available in nearby campus locations, where the event will be video streamed.