Don’t Just Graduate – Elevate


Of course the Commencement team has been meeting and planning for months now. So many details to unravel and daunting logistics to tame. But there is still time to hit pause and consider breathing a bit of fresh air into all that tradition.

Those of you who know us know that we are suckers for some well-placed pomp and circumstance. But we also love a fresh twist, respectful irreverence and all things authentic. Consider some of these ideas for keeping Commencement real:

  • Let the graduating class select the music they march to. If you want to guide the process a bit, pull together a multi-stakeholder working group that can establish a tone, genre, short list of songs, etc. that the class can then vote on. Maybe they will keep it classical but it’s just as likely that they will take a more contemporary approach – something that is evocative and meaningful for them. It’s impossible to ignore the power of great walk-in music.
  • Invite someone completely new and different to speak. What if the first-year class president spoke to the graduates about how inspirational they are? What if a parent – or a sibling – took to the stage to describe what the day means to them? We can guarantee this would be much more memorable than hearing from the alumni association president.
  • Ask faculty advisors to offer well-wishes to the class. And then create an animated loop of the quotes that can play while guests are seated and waiting for the big event. Talk about creating the right atmosphere!
  • Create a video of beloved campus personalities offering congratulations. What better way to bring guests into the fold and remind graduates of what they will miss than seeing and hearing from a favorite librarian or dining hall server or groundskeeper – along with the requisite campus big shots like the president and provost. And be sure to keep it light and heart-felt. The lectures are over.

Best Practices
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