Graduating from Ball State this May? Here's what you need to know about commencement

<p>Over 1,000 students gathered in Worthen Arena on July 22 for Summer Commencement. <strong>Reagan Allen, DN File</strong></p>

Over 1,000 students gathered in Worthen Arena on July 22 for Summer Commencement. Reagan Allen, DN File

Have questions about commencement? Contact Ball State's Commencement Office.

The 182nd Commencement of Ball State University is now just weeks away, and that means it's time to start preparing for the big day.

Spring Commencement takes place at the end of the semester and 2018 ceremonies will be held May 5 on Ball State's campus.

Before turning the tassel, though, make sure you're meeting important deadlines and know what to expect at graduation.

What is commencement?

Commencement ceremonies honor students who have completed the requirements to receive academic degrees. At Ball State, these ceremonies take place every spring, summer and fall.

An all-university ceremony takes place in the morning — where all graduates come together on the Old Quad, weather permitting — and individual college ceremonies are scheduled throughout the day around campus.

Who's the Commencement speaker?

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert G. Hunt, a 1969 Ball State alumnus, will give the main address at the spring ceremony. 

Hunt is chairman emeritus of Hunt Construction Group — now known as AECOM Hunt — a company that's recognized nationally for building sports facilities and convention centers. 

READ MORE: Ball State alumnus Robert Hunt to speak at May commencement

Hunt returned to the university as an executive-in-residence and as a mentor for two immersive  learning projects that involved his company. In 2016, Ball State also dedicated the Robert G. Hunt Center for Construction Management within the Applied Technology Building, honoring Hunt, his wife and their family’s philanthropic investments to the university.

What do I need to buy, and where can I buy it?

If you plan on attending the commencement ceremonies, you'll need to purchase a cap and gown from the Ball State Bookstore. You can do so in the store or by visiting their website.

Other items — like graduation announcements, class things, diploma frames, etc. — can also be purchased from the bookstore.

Ceremony photographers from Grad Images will take photos of graduates as they cross the stage at each college ceremony. These will be available for purchase within a few days of the ceremony at GradImages' website.

As far as the ceremonies go, tickets are not required, but be forewarned that seating is limited.

Are there deadlines and dates I need to know about?

The application to graduate this spring has passed, but there are several other looming deadlines remaining.

If you still need to order your cap and gown, act fast. Ball State's Commencement Office recommends ordering your attire one month prior to the ceremony to ensure you get the proper size. 

Degree verification takes place from May 11 to June 1. Once that process is complete, you can order transcripts at no charge through July 3 by using Self Service Banner.

Diplomas for master's, bachelor's and associate degrees will be mailed four to eight weeks after commencement.

What's the schedule like on May 5?

Students are instructed to line up behind their college banners by 9 a.m. on the Fine Arts Terrace between Lucina Hall and Ball Gym.

The all-university main ceremony begins an hour later with opening remarks. Hunt will speak shortly after, and students will then move their tassels from the right to the left side of their caps to signify their new status as graduates.

Here's the university's official schedule for the main ceremony:

8 a.m. — Guest seating opens
9 a.m. — Graduates must be in the appropriate line behind their college banner
9:30 a.m. — Processional begins. Guests who are not seated may experience delays.
10 a.m. — Opening remarks begin, and all students are expected to stay for the duration of the ceremony
11:30 a.m. (approximately) — Main ceremony concludes

After the main ceremony, each of the university's seven colleges hold their own ceremonies. There, graduates' names are announced individually as they cross the stage. Each graduate will also receive a diploma cover and have a photo taken with the dean or department chair. 

Guests should be advised that only graduates and commencement personnel will be allowed in graduate areas. No food or drinks can be brought inside the ceremonies.

The Commencement Office indicated the following items are prohibited at all ceremony venues: 

  • Bags/packages larger than 16 inches
  • Missile-type objects 
  • Large signs/banners 
  • Helium balloons 
  • Pole-mounted flags/signs 
  • Laser pointers 
  • Weapons 
  • Coolers 
  • Smoking, including e-cigarettes 
  • Object(s) deemed inappropriate for arena/stadium events 

What should I wear to the commencement ceremonies?

All graduates participating in Commencement ceremonies must wear university-approved caps, gowns and other attire.

Additional accessories worn at the main ceremony must be included in the university's approved list below: 

  • Cum laude – bronze medallion
  • Magna cum laude – silver medallion
  • Summa cum laude – gold medallion
  • College of Architecture and Planning – college-approved stole
  • Honors College – red and white cords
  • Military — red, white and blue cords; student veteran's stole
  • Mortar Board – gold and silver cords
  • Phi Kappa Phi – blue and gold cords
  • Golden Key - blue and gold cords

However, graduates can wear other regalia to their individual college ceremonies later in the day.

Will there be parking?

All parking lots around the campus will be open May 5, and free shuttle service will be available all day from the north to the south ends of campus along McKinley Avenue.

Handicap drop-off, parking and designated seating are available at the main ceremony and all college ceremonies, according to the Commencement Office

How many students are attending the spring ceremony?

Although official numbers for Spring Commencement aren't available yet, expect several thousand students and family members to be present at the graduation ceremonies.

In spring 2017, Ball State graduated more than 3,100 students, and in spring 2016, around 2,800 students were present at the ceremony.

Contact Casey Smith with comments at or on Twitter @SmithCaseyA.


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