3 graduates at Commencement one smiling for the camera
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Commencement Information

Commencement 2024

Bridgewater College’s Commencement Exercises will be held Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m. under the tent on the Campus Mall. The Commencement schedule can be found below. For more detailed information, please visit the accompanying webpages. If you have any additional questions, please email commencement@bridgewater.edu.

Commencement Speaker:
Dr. Oskar Scheikl

Data Systems Coordinator for Harrisonburg City Public Schools

Dr. Oskar Scheikl retired as Superintendent of Rockingham County Public Schools (RCPS) in June 2023 after nearly three decades of service in public education. Not long after his retirement, Scheikl returned to public education and currently serves as Data Systems Coordinator for Harrisonburg City Public Schools and adjunct instructor at James Madison University.

Dr. Oskar Scheikl retired as Superintendent of Rockingham County Public Schools (RCPS) in June 2023 after nearly three decades of service in public education.

“Education has always been a passion of mine,” says Scheikl, who began his career teaching social studies at Broadway High School in 1995.

After five years in teaching, Scheikl moved into the RCPS District Technology Department, first managing district and student data and then as Director of Information Management. He was appointed Superintendent of RCPS in 2017. During his six-year tenure as head of the 25-school system, Scheikl developed programs to support student mental and behavioral health and created new project-based learning opportunities for students. He also led 11,800 students and 2,500 employees through the Covid-19 pandemic, which he describes as the greatest challenge of his professional career.

Earlier this year, RCPS gained national attention when the School Board voted to temporarily remove 57 books—mostly covering LGBTQIA and race-related themes—from school libraries. Scheikl said he sees this as indicative of larger culture wars in American society but expressed great confidence in the next generation in navigating these challenges.

“I have tremendous faith in this generation,” he says. “It is the most open-minded, inclusive group that I have seen. And I believe that they will do great things.”

Scheikl grew up in Austria and moved to the United States in 1992, later becoming a U.S. citizen. He earned a B.S. in history and an M.S in computer science from James Madison University and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Virginia.

Not long after his retirement, Scheikl returned to public education and currently serves as Data Systems Coordinator for Harrisonburg City Public Schools and adjunct instructor at James Madison University. Scheikl and his wife, Denell, have four children and live outside of Harrisonburg. In his free time, Scheikl enjoys traveling with his family, coaching soccer and skydiving.


Baccalaureate Service

The Baccalaureate Service will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 3 in Cole Hall.


Commencement Exercises will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 4 on the Campus Mall.

Details about Commencement

Each graduate will receive four reserved-seating Commencement tickets for family and friends. Graduates will receive their tickets at the conclusion of Commencement rehearsal.

Graduates may invite more than four guests to Commencement, although they will only receive four tickets for reserved-seating.

The four guests with reserved seating tickets will be seated in the reserved seating section under the tent on the Campus Mall; guests without tickets 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.

Reserved Seating Tickets

Graduates will be allotted four reserved seating tickets that must be claimed through HomeTown after Commencement Rehearsal on Thursday, May 2. You must claim your reserved seating tickets using your 7 digit student ID number. This number can be found in MyBC Self-Service, by clicking your username in the top right corner, selecting User Profile, and located underneath your picture labeled as Colleague ID. Once you have claimed your reserved seating tickets, you may transfer tickets electronically to your guests. Instructions are posted below.

Creating HomeTown Account
Graduate Ticket Claim Instructions (Mobile)
Graduate Ticket Claim Instructions (Web Browser)
Ticket Transfer Instructions

Guests will have the option to watch Commencement from our Remote Viewing Locations on campus. Additional information regarding these locations will be forthcoming.

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.

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 Honors Program are wearing gold medallions and neck ribbons in the College colors. The Flory Honors 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 are 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, are 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.
  • Members of the Philomathes Society of Bridgewater College wear maroon cords, representing their outstanding academic achievement, dedication to creative intellectual pursuits in the liberal arts and service to their community.
  • Graduates wearing red, black and white cords are members of the national political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha.
  • The Diversity Champion medallion recognizes and honors those students who have worked tirelessly for the advancement of diversity and inclusion during their time at Bridgewater College.
  • Gold cords represent membership in Pi Lamba Theta, the national honor society for education.
  • The Sigma Tau Delta red and black cords represent membership in the international English honor society, which fosters all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language, and writing.