Commencement Home

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General Guest Information | Festivities | Visiting SSU and Sonoma County

General Guest Information

In Case of Rain
Commencement Definition | Graduation Definition | Seating
Indoor Webcast Viewing | Guests with Disabilities | Maps
Diploma Photographs | Personal Photography | Commencement Programs
Flowers | Food and Beverages | Bookstore | Restrooms | Smoking
Cell Phones | Dogs | First Aid | Local Weather
Information, Messages, and Lost and Found | Meeting Guests

Commencement Definition

A ceremony at which academic degrees or diplomas are conferred.

Graduation Definition

the successful completion of a program of study.


Graduates are encouraged to invite family and friends to attend Commencement. Due to the large crowd expected (about 5,000 each ceremony) and the limited seating capacity, graduates are asked to invite no more than five guests. Reservations and tickets are not needed. Seating is on a first-come basis. All guests should be seated at least 15 minutes before the ceremony or risk missing the processional as certain pathways will be temporarily closed while the graduates walk in. For those who cannot attend, the ceremonies will be broadcast in real-time via a web cast.

Indoor Webcast Viewing of Commencement

A limited number of seats inside the Multi-Purpose Room of the Student Union (adjacent to the Commencement lawn) are available to view the Commencement ceremonies via a live Webcast. Seating in this area is on a first-come basis. Reservations are not taken for seating in this area. Additionally, during and after, the ceremony can be viewed by visiting SSU's Streaming Media website from any location with internet access, for those who wish to view the ceremony from home or some other location.

Guests with Disabilities or Mobility Limitations

An Assigned Seating and parking area is available for guests with disabilities, mobility limitations and for those needing an American Sign Language interpreter. Reservations are requested in advance (see below for link to reservation form).

Although the Commencement area is within walking distance of parking areas, graduates and guests should plan to provide assistance for those who have a disability or mobility limitations. This may includes bringing walkers and wheelchairs.

Persons needing assigned seating may have one “family” helper sit with them in the Assigned Seating area. Volunteers with motorized carts can assist guests with limited mobility from parking Lot G, reserved for the disabled, to the Commencement Lawn/Assigned Seating area.

Arrangements for Reserved Parking in Lot G and the Assigned Seating area must be made in advance and will be taken through the deadline of May 6 (to allow processing and mailing time.)

If you miss the deadline of May 6, please advise your family member who needs assigned seating, due to a disability or limited mobility, to go directly to the Assigned Seating area on Commencement day. Volunteers will make every effort to accommodate those who have not made advanced reservations for parking in Lot G and Assigned Seating, as space will be provided on a first-come first-serve basis.

A parking pass for Lot G, two passes for the Assigned Seating area and a campus map will be mailed after a reservation is received by the University Affairs Division. Deadline is May 6.

Disabilities Reservation Form (pdf)

Guests who use a telephone relay station may call (707) 664-2958 to make arrangements.

Maps, Campus and Area

Please go to the Campus Maps page for campus and area maps. The main campus map slows the location of the Commencement Lawn and parking lots.

Parking permits are not required on Commencement day. All lots are open and available, including metered spaces and reserved lots. Do not park in disabled parking spaces unless you are legally able to do so. See Campus Maps for locations.

Diploma Photographs

Photographers will take each graduate's photograph as he or she receives his or her diploma. Graduates will receive an e-mail proof of their photo within 1 week of the ceremony (e-mail addresses will be written by the graduates on their white card that they fill out when lined up prior to the ceremonies). Orders can be placed once photo proofs are received. Students may feel comfortable listing their Sonoma State University e-mail addresses for this purpose since these e-mail addresses remain active for one semester after a student graduates.

Personal Photography

Audience members are free to take photographs or to videotape, however they should do so from their seating area and take care not to disrupt the ceremony, block another person's view, or in any way detract from the enjoyment of the event. Photographs of each student receiving his or her diploma will be taken and are available for purchase (see above).

Commencement Programs

Printed programs containing the names of graduates, a list of faculty, and other information about Commencement will be distributed on Commencement day. Graduates’ programs will be on their chairs. Guests will be able to pick up their programs as they enter the Commencement area (2 per family).


The Sonoma State University Children’s School, a program of the Associated Students, Inc., offers a variety of flowers for sale from booths at various campus sites on Commencement day beginning at 7:30 a.m. The booths remain open until 5:30 p.m. Roses, orchids, spring bouquets and leis will be available. Prices range from $8-$30. Proceeds benefit the Children’s School. Cash, checks or credit cards are accepted.

Food and Beverages for Sale

Food and beverages are available for sale in well-traveled areas of campus beginning at 8:00 a.m. Consumption of alcoholic beverages is not permitted before, during or after Commencement. Drinking and misconduct by even a few would be disturbing to the graduates, faculty, and guests who expect and deserve a safe, orderly, and dignified ceremony. Any graduate who appears to be intoxicated will not be permitted to participate in the ceremony.


The Bookstore will be open Commencement day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests can purchase over-the-counter medication for headache and allergies, sunscreen, batteries, disposable cameras, etc. as well gift items for graduates. See the Commencement map for additional booth locations around campus where these items can also be purchased.


Restrooms in nearby buildings surrounding the Commencement area will be open, including Stevenson Hall, Salazar Hall, the Art Building, and the gymnasium. Maps of open restrooms will be available at many locations during Commencement and in the Commencement program. Portable restrooms are located near the Student Union.


In order to reduce the hazards of exposure to secondhand smoke, smoking is prohibited inside and within 20 feet of the outermost perimeter of all campus buildings, exterior ramps, stairways, and dining patios, as well as outside gathering and seating areas and any other location that unavoidably exposes others to second hand smoke.

Cell Phones

Please turn off cell phones and personal electronic devices during the ceremony.


Dogs and other animals, other than service animals, are not permitted at Commencement or on the University grounds on Commencement day.

First Aid

An emergency first aid station will be set up near the northeast side of the Student Union building. University Police Officers will be on duty in the Commencement area to assist with first aid, emergencies and lost and found. Look for signage on Commencement day.

Local Weather

The weather can be very warm, and there is little shade available at the Commencement site. Be sure to take appropriate precautions with sunscreen and hats.

In case of rain, bring raincoats, umbrellas, and appropriate footwear. Please forewarn guests, especially frail visitors who are sensitive to outdoor conditions. Please check the local weather forecast for Rohnert Park to be best prepared.

In Case of Rain

The ceremony will go forward, on the Commencement Lawn even in the event of inclement weather. Sonoma County does not have a location large enough to hold this celebration indoors. In case of rain, bring raincoats, umbrellas, and appropriate footwear. Please note the ceremony may be abbreviated to ensure the safety of all graduates, guests, faculty and staff. Speeches could be omitted from the program and names may not be able to be read.

Information, Messages, and Lost and Found

An information, message, and lost and found center will be located north of the Commons. A board available to graduates and guests for posting messages will be set up and staffed on Commencement day.

Meeting Guests after the Ceremony

Graduates are urged to make arrangements before Commencement to meet family and friends after the ceremonies at the academic School receptions or another pre-designated location. Please remind guests that the audience must remain in their seats during the recessional.


Academic School Receptions

Each Academic School hosts an informal reception for graduates and their guests immediately following the Commencement ceremonies. Refreshments are served. The receptions provide a good opportunity for graduates to greet faculty and introduce family and friends, and for informal photographs.

Local Area and Places to Stay

Seawolf Guest Suites
Experience campus life and enjoy the convenience of being within walking distance of the Commencement Lawn. The group style accommodations enable the whole family to stay in one suite.

Check out the Seawolf Guest Suites website and to make your reservation. **Use promo code: "Grad11" for special rates.

Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma
745 Baywood Drive, Petaluma, CA 94954
Phone: (707) 283-2888, Anthony Chavarria

Hampton Inn & Suites Rohnert Park
6248 Redwood Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Phone: (707) 586-8700

Doubletree Hotel Sonoma Wine Country
One Doubletree Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Phone: (707) 584-5466

SSU Visitor page