Commencement Day Details

Ceremony Procedures

  • Plan to arrive at Western Hall approximately 1 hour prior to the ceremony. Please leave all belongings with your guests.
  • Students go to the East Arena (Q-Lot side of Western Hall) to pick up name cards and assemble behind the standard designated for their major.
  • Students need to be in line 30 minutes prior to their ceremony.
  • Students will process into the arena area as directed by commencement staff and marshals.
  • Marshals will continue to direct students throughout the ceremony. Marshals are easily recognized by their white robes.
  • Marshals will lead students to the stage by row. Exit rows to the right and re-enter rows from the left.
  • Students walk up the ramp and hand their name cards to the reader at the podium. As individual names are read, students cross the stage, shaking hands with several University dignitaries.
  • At the far end of the stage, students receive their diploma covers and pose with their department chair or leader for a professional photograph.
  • Hold the diploma cover in an upright position with the school seal facing the camera.
  • Students will be directed to move their tassels to the left side of their cap after everyone has crossed the stage.
  • At the conclusion of the ceremony, the music will begin and marshals will direct students out of the arena. Please remain seated until your row is released.
  • The ceremony typically lasts less than 2 hours.


Commencement is a ceremony to recognize the academic achievements of our graduates. All degree candidates are required to wear only appropriate and approved academic attire. Failure to comply with the guidelines below may be cause for removal from the ceremony.

  • Only stoles and cords of approved academic honor organizations may be worn on the outside of your gown during the ceremony. 
  • For undergraduates, only medallions recognizing academic achievement may be worn on the outside of the gown

Approved academic organizations are those which have a GPA threshold at or above a 3.000.  In order to request approval for an organization, the advisor must send a request and include the name of the organization, its unit affiliation, and the GPA threshold required to be a member of the organization to

Cords and stoles are permitted to be worn by members of:

    • Alpha Epsilon Rho
    • Alpha Mu Gamma
    • Alpha Phi Sigma
    • Alpha Sigma Lambda
    • Alpha Zeta
    • Beta Alpha Psi
    • Beta Beta Beta
    • Blue Key National Honor Society
    • Chi Alpha Sigma
    • Delta Epsilon Iota
    • Delta Psi
    • Golden Key International Honour Society
    • Iota Iota Iota
    • Kappa Delta Pi
    • Kappa Omicron Nu
    • Kappa Pi
    • Kappa Sigma
    • Lambda Pi Eta
    • Mortar Board
    • National Society for Collegiate Scholars
    • Nursing Honor Society
    • Phi Alpha Theta
    • Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society
    • Phi Epsilon Sigma
    • Phi Eta Sigma
    • Phi Kappa Phi
    • Psi Chi
    • SALUTE
    • Sigma Iota Epsilon
    • Sigma Tau Delta
    • Student Service Leadership
    • Upsilon Pi Epsilon
    • Who's Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities


Disability Information

  • Graduating students who need special assistance should contact the Disability Resource Center at (309) 298-2512.
  • Western Illinois University staff will be available in  the lobby entrance for family members or guests who need assistance.


  • A professional photographer will take a photo as graduates receive their diploma covers.
  • DVDs of the entire ceremony will also be available for purchase from University Television.
  • Order forms and proofs will be mailed to the diploma address within two weeks following graduation. We ask that all attendees be considerate of others when taking photographs.
  • For more information, please visit

Personal Belongings

  • Do not bring extra belongings as there is not secure storage available during the ceremony. Please leave all belongings with your guests as you may not remain in the same seat throughout the ceremony. Graduating students will not be permitted to march into the gym with food or drink. 


  • No tickets are needed to attend the ceremony.
  • Seating is on first-come, first-served basis. Doors open 1½ hours prior to each ceremony.
  • Ushers will monitor rows to accommodate as many guests as possible.
  • Saving seats is not permitted.
  • Due to space limitations for May undergraduate ceremonies, Spring graduates are asked to limit their guests to no more than 6 individuals.

Etiquette and Decorum

  • Commencement is a milestone that should be celebrated appropriately. We ask that all graduates and guests respect the importance and dignity of this occasion, and celebrate in a way that does not infringe upon the rights of others or diminish the experience of others.

  • Follow the instructions of the marshals and commencement staff.

  • Plan to stay seated for the entire ceremony.

  • Place any electronic devices vibrate or silent mode.

  • Large balloon bouquets or banners that obstruct the view of others are prohibited.

  • Graduates are expected to cross the stage in a respectful and dignified manner.

  • Any action deemed inappropriate could result in removal from the ceremony and withholding of the diploma.

  • Thank you for your cooperation in observing these guidelines.

No Noisemaking Devices

  • Noisemaking devices are prohibited. Possession of noisemaking devices, especially air horns, may result in removal from the premises. Consideration for the safety and welfare of all attendees is a priority.

No Alcohol

  • Alcohol is not permitted. Anyone in possession of alcohol will be immediately removed from the premises by on-duty police officers.

No Smoking/Tobacco Policy

  • Western is a smoke-free and tobacco-free campus


  • Your diploma and a complimentary transcript will be mailed approximately 6-8 weeks after commencement, providing there are no financial encumbrances and all requirements have been met.
  • The address on your commencement name card will be used. Should there be incorrect information on your name card, please visit the information center in the East Arena commencement day or contact the Graduation Department at (309) 298-1891.
  • Participation in commencement does not guarantee graduation.

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