Due to the impacts of COVID-19, St. Olaf College’s 2020 Commencement festivities have been postponed and will be rescheduled for a date in late May/early June of 2021.
The ceremony lasts about two hours.
The decision to hold Commencement on the Campus Green or inside Skoglund will be announced during Baccalaureate at 9 a.m. Sunday morning. If the ceremony will take place inside, the news will be posted in Buntrock Commons and on the college website and available by phone at 507-786-2222.
Accessible seating and sign language interpreting are available both on the Campus Green (outdoor ceremony) and in Skoglund Center Auditorium (indoor ceremony). Tickets for this section are required whether the ceremony is indoors or outside. Please contact the Events Management Office at 507-786-3811 or email@example.com to acquire tickets for this section. Hearing devices are also available for use on the Campus Green or in Skoglund.
No tickets are needed for general seating if Commencement is held outdoors.
If Commencement is indoors due to inclement weather, all seating in Skoglund Auditorium will require tickets. Every graduating senior participating in the ceremony is guaranteed at least three tickets. Graduating seniors will be contacted with instructions on how to reserve their tickets online.
The Commencement ceremony will be live-streamed to Viking Theater in Buntrock Commons, Tomson Hall 280, and Boe Memorial Chapel regardless of weather or ceremony location. No tickets are required for these venues, but arrive early to ensure seating. We encourage families with elderly guests or small children to take advantage of the air conditioned simulcast locations.
Yes! The Students of Color Graduation Celebration, Last Lecture, Celebration Concert, Illumination Ceremony, Baccalaureate, and Commencement will be streamed and available on-demand.
Graduating seniors must reserve indoor tickets because parents will not have access to the online reservation process. More information will be available at a later date for the Class of 2020.
Registration for Commencement Weekend
Online Commencement Weekend registration will not open on March 17, 2020, as previously planned, due to impacts of COVID-19.
Registration is required for all on-campus housing, the Buntrock Bash, and Sunday Brunch. Please also register for other events during the weekend which are free and open to the public, including the Celebration Concert, the Illumination Ceremony, Baccalaureate, and Academic Department Receptions (view the full event list here). Meal tickets and housing assignments will be available to pick up when you check in for Commencement Weekend.
We highly encourage registering online. If you have trouble completing your online registration, please email the Events Management Office or call 507-786-3811 for assistance.
Please register in a way that you feel is most comfortable. While we generally encourage an entire party or family to register together on one registration (it helps keep registration materials easily accessible and cuts down on duplicate registrations), we do not require it. If you prefer, you may keep your registrations separate, such as in the case of blended families or other circumstances. We ask family members who register separately to make sure only one of the registrations includes the graduating senior.
Only the primary registrant on a registration will have online access to make changes. The primary registrant will need to click on the blue button on the confirmation email labeled “Update My Registration” to make changes to existing event selections. If changes to on-campus housing selections (adding or canceling) are required, please contact the Events Management Office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (507) 786-3811 for assistance.
Any changes to a registration that result in a refund will be honored if they are made either online or by contacting the Events Management Office no later than May 22, 2020. We do not offer refunds after May 22, 2020. Please contact the Events Management Office by emailing email@example.com or by calling (507) 786-3811 for assistance.
There is no cost to attend most of the events held during Commencement Weekend with these few exceptions:
Buntrock Bash: $35 per ticket (meal plans or Ole Cards are not valid for this event).
Sunday Brunch: $13 for Adults and Children age 13 or older, $7 for Children ages 6-12, Free for Children 5 years old and younger. Graduating seniors with an active meal plan do not need to pay for this event. Please note that active meal plans for current students who are not graduating seniors end on Wednesday, May 20, unless those students are employed to work the Commencement and Reunion Weekends.
Residence Hall Accommodations: $45 per night for a single bed, no cost for children sleeping on the floor or for current or graduating students who remain in their own dorm rooms for the weekend.
The Commencement ceremony is not included in the Commencement Weekend online registration because tickets are not required if the ceremony is held outdoors, and there is no limit on the number of people who may attend the outdoor ceremony.
However, tickets will be required if the ceremony is held indoors, and seniors are responsible for reserving their family’s tickets as part of their graduation preparation process.
If you are staying on campus for the weekend: Please park in the lot nearest Ellingson Hall, or the lot between Mohn Hall and Kildahl Hall.
If you are coming to campus on Saturday: Please park in the Buntrock Commons lot, the lot near Rand Hall, or parking spaces on the roadway.
If you are coming to campus on Sunday: Please park in the Buntrock Commons lot, Old Main Field (the grass lot off Lincoln Street, between 1st Street and 2nd Street), the lot nearest Rand Hall, or the lot near Skoglund. There will be a shuttle pickup from the grass lot for the Commencement ceremony.
Please note that some parking areas may be restricted for handicap accessible parking on Sunday.
Printed campus maps will be available during Commencement Weekend at the Registration Desk in Buntrock Commons.
We request that you do not bring any animals, other than service animals, to the St. Olaf campus.
Campus wheelchairs are limited to emergency use only. If you need a wheelchair for use throughout the weekend, you will need to make arrangements with your local medical supply store.
Parents: Planning Ahead
Yes. All students who ordered a cap and gown for Commencement 2020 will receive an email with information on next steps for regalia. It will include a link for students who would like a refund, which the vendor will provide. Students also have the option of keeping their original order to celebrate with family and friends, to use for photographs, and/or to wear it for the ceremony to take place in late May/early June 2021.
Rooms in residence halls on campus are available for family and friends who wish to stay on campus for Friday, Saturday, and/or Sunday nights only. The cost is $45 per person per night.
Hotel options are available in the nearby cities of Faribault, Lakeville, Burnsville, Bloomington, or Eagan. Plan to make hotel reservations well in advance since rooms are usually in high demand due to Memorial Day Weekend.
St. Olaf works with GradImages to photograph graduating seniors as they leave the platform. Visit GradImages to pre-register your permanent email address prior to Commencement and they will contact you as soon as your photos are ready for viewing. GradImages will contact you by mail following the ceremony with information on ordering photographs. For further information or to view your photos after Commencement, visit gradimages.com or call 800-261-2576.
Digital video downloads and/or DVDs are available for purchase through the Commencement Weekend Registration process. The cost is $25 for a digital video download or $35 for the digital video download and a DVD copy. Otherwise, you can purchase downloads or DVDs anytime after Commencement Weekend at this link (applicable tax and shipping included). Please allow 6–8 weeks for delivery.
We do sell tickets to both the Buntrock Bash and the Sunday Brunch at the door. Some families aren’t sure who will end up attending these events, so they prefer to wait to purchase tickets at the door. Please be aware that ticket lines may be long for those purchasing them on-site.
Graduating seniors will pay for and pick up their caps and gowns at GradFest – a one stop shop for all their Commencement needs. Orders can be placed online through Herff Jones. If Commencement is canceled, Herff Jones will offer a full refund.
Students are welcome to use any solid black cap and gown in good condition rather than purchasing a new set.
Seniors: Preparing for Commencement
All students who ordered a cap and gown for Commencement 2020 will receive an email with information on next steps for regalia. It will include a link for students who would like a refund, which the vendor will provide. Students also have the option of keeping their original order to celebrate with family and friends, to use for photographs, and/or to wear it for the ceremony to take place in late May/early June 2021.
If Commencement is held indoors due to inclement weather, all seating in Skoglund Auditorium will require tickets. Every graduating senior participating in the ceremony is guaranteed at least three tickets.
GradFest is a one-stop-shop for graduates to get their commencement-related questions answered, pick up their caps and gowns, and register for Senior Days. Visit our GradFest page to learn more.
Yes, all students participating in the Commencement Ceremony should have a black cap and gown.
Place your orders with Herff Jones online. You can also order rings, diploma frames, and announcements. If Commencement is canceled, Herff Jones will provide refunds for caps and gowns.
Yes. Many people have siblings who have graduated in previous years or are able to borrow from others who have a black cap and gown set. We support any effort to reuse gowns and caps as long as they are completely black in color and are in good condition.
All graduating seniors participating in Commencement MUST meet at Tostrud field house in cap and gown with tassel ahead of the start of the ceremony.
Rehearsal is held in Tostrud no matter where the ceremony is held. Commencement exercises are complicated and exacting. It is extremely important that you arrive on time so you will be in the right place at the right moment to receive your diploma. During rehearsal, the marshals will talk you through the afternoon’s proceedings step by step: processing, seating, handling yourself on the platform, posing for photographs, post-Commencement procedures, etc. Honor cords will be distributed during rehearsal and water will be available.
All graduating seniors, including those not participating in Commencement Weekend festivities, will each have a lantern at the Illumination Ceremony. We recommend having a friend claim yours for you. Be sure to choose someone who is able to deliver your lantern to you, as St. Olaf does not ship lanterns to graduates.
All graduates will each have a lantern at the Illumination Ceremony. Seniors are not required to take their lanterns after the ceremony, and any unclaimed lanterns will be reused.