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Commencement Information

Bridgewater’s Commencement exercises will be held Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 10 a.m. under the tent on the Campus Mall.

Thunder/Lightning Plans For Baccalaureate and Commencement

On the off chance that we would experience a thunder/lightning storm before or while Baccalaureate and/or Commencement Exercises are underway, we will need to pause the ceremony. Everyone will need to vacate the tent and all guests must move indoors. If this becomes necessary, an announcement will be made from the podium, and we will stop (or delay the start of) the ceremony. The ceremony will resume (or begin) as directed by the announcement from the podium.

For Baccalaureate, the ceremony will resume in Nininger Hall approximately 30 minutes after we exit the tent.

  • Seniors should proceed directly to the downstairs hallway in Nininger Hall to re-form the line-up.
  • Faculty should proceed directly to Nininger and take their seats in the front of the gymnasium.
  • Guests should proceed directly to Nininger and be seated.
  • Everyone should take all personal belongings, as we will not be returning to the tent.

For Commencement, the service will resume in the tent approximately 30 minutes after the last sign of thunder or lightning. The remainder of the exercises will resume at the point they were paused. Guests will be notified when they can return to the tent.

If we announce a thunderstorm delay during the ceremony:

  • Seniors will proceed to the downstairs hallway in Nininger Hall to re-form the line-up.
  • Seniors will then re-process back to their seats.
  • Faculty will proceed to the hallway on the main level of Nininger Hall between the gym and the pool and then retake their seats prior to the return of the students.
  • All guests will need to exit the tent and find shelter indoors in any of the surrounding buildings.
  • Everyone should take all personal belongings, as, depending on the length of the storm, it may not be possible to resume the exercises in the tent.

In the event that the thunderstorm is prolonged, it may be necessary to conclude the ceremony in Nininger Hall. Guests will be informed if a decision is made to move the ceremony to Nininger Hall.

Seniors are given two blue thunderstorm tickets at Commencement Rehearsal. These tickets will allow for two (2) guests to view the conclusion of the Commencement Exercises in Nininger Hall. All other guests will need to view the remainder of the Commencement Exercises from a remote viewing location (Bowman Hall, the Boitnott Room in Rebecca Hall, the Main Dining Hall in Kline Campus Center and Cole Hall), or by using an internet-capable electronic device from any place on campus.

Please note that these contingency plans are ONLY in the event of a thunder/lightning storm as announced from the podium during either ceremony. In the case of rain alone, all exercises will still be held under the tent.


Each senior will receive four reserved-seating Commencement tickets for family and friends. Seniors will be given their tickets following Commencement rehearsal on Thursday, May 19. Following rehearsal, tickets will be kept at the KCC Information Desk for pick-up. Seniors will be able to obtain their tickets at the Information Desk Thursday evening through Saturday morning, but will need to show their college ID to do so.

Seniors may invite more than four guests to Commencement, although they will only receive four reserved-seating tickets. Bridgewater College cannot give out additional reserved-seating tickets.

The four guests with tickets will be seated in the reserved seating section under the tent on the Campus Mall; other guests will be seated in the open seating area. There will also be two sections for handicapped seating. One section will be for reserved-seating ticket holders. The other section will be an open handicapped seating area.

In the event of inclement weather, only those guests with reserved-seating tickets will be seated under the tent on the Campus Mall. Other guests may watch the ceremony on screens located in the remote viewing locations. Tickets are not required for the Baccalaureate Service.

Remote Viewing Locations

For the comfort and convenience of our guests, there will be a live video feed of the Commencement program in the Boinott Room in Rebecca Hall and in the Cole Hall Auditorium. In case of inclement weather, there will also be video feeds to the Kline Campus Center and Bowman Hall. Please see the Bridgewater College Baccalaureate and Commencement Campus Map for those locations.

About Academic Dress

Academic dress has its origins in the garments worn at medieval British universities, particularly Oxford. Although caps and gowns had been used in many American schools since Colonial time, it was not until about 1885 that their use became widespread at commencement ceremonies. Participants in academic ceremonies are expected to wear the academic regalia to which they are entitled by virtue of the degree they hold.

The Intercollegiate Code provides for bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s gown distinguished by the shape of the sleeves. The sleeves of doctor’s gowns also have three velvet chevrons. The color of the velvet trim may be black or the same color as the velvet that edges the hood. Caps worn with bachelor’s and master’s gowns usually have a black tassel. A doctor may wear a gold tassel.

In the United States, the hood is the most distinctive feature of academic attire. It is worn at the back, suspended near the shoulders. The length of the hood and width of its velvet border indicate the level of degree held. The bachelors wear a hood that is three feet long with a two-inch velvet border. The hood for the master’s degree is three and one-half feet long with a three-inch border. The doctor’s hood is four feet long and the border is five inches wide. The inner lining of the hood is the official color of colors of the institution conferring the degree, while the color of the border indicates the field of learning in which the degree was earned.

Symbols of Honor

Graduates will be wearing cords that signify their level of achievement: gold for summa cum laude, silver for magna cum laude and red for cum laude.

  • Graduates of the John S. Flory Fellowship of Scholars, the College’s academic honors program, will be wearing gold medallions and neck ribbons in the College colors. The Flory Fellows program celebrates curiosity, integration, independence and leadership inside and outside the classroom.
  • The Alpha Chi medallion symbolizes the honor and distinction of being a member of the national academic honor society. The supporting neck ribbon is in the colors of Alpha Chi.
  • The Omicron Delta Kappa cord symbolizes the honor and distinction of being a member of the National Leadership Honor Society.
  • The Student Government cord of royal blue represents the honor and distinction of being a past or current member of one of the College’s many branches of student government.
  • Psi Chi graduates represent outstanding academic achievement and membership in the International Honor Society in Psychology and will be wearing blue and silver honor cords, medallions or stoles.
  • Green and red honor cords signify membership in Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society.
  • Members of the Communication Studies Honor Society, Lambda Pi Eta, will be wearing red and white cords.
  • Members of Alpha Mu Gamma, the foreign language academic honor society, are wearing double gold cords, which recognize academic excellence in language and culture studies.
  • Gold and forest green cords represent membership in Sigma Beta Delta, the international honor society for business, management and administration.
  • Graduates wearing blue and red cords with mixed tassels are members of the national history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta.

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