Commencement Weekend at SMU is a mixture of time-honored practice and modern refinements, from the custom regalia to the Rotunda Recessional. Here is a roundup of the traditions and symbols that make up the University’s 21st-century approach to these ancient ceremonies.
Baccalaureate Service for Undergraduate Candidates
The Baccalaureate Service is a religious ceremony held in McFarlin Auditorium the Friday evening before May Commencement Convocation. This is a small and intimate service that features a special sermon for undergraduate candidates and their guests.
Wearing full regalia, candidates process into McFarlin and are seated together. Weather permitting, students line up on the Main Quad in the order of their arrival.
The Rotunda Recessional follows the Baccalaureate Service. Undergraduate candidates, led by faculty and alumni marshals, march through the front doors of Dallas Hall, across its Rotunda and around to the University’s Main Quad. This tradition marks the new graduates’ symbolic departure from the Hilltop and welcomes them into their new phase of membership in the SMU community – their lives as alumni.
The march is a bookend to another symbolic tradition, the Rotunda Passage. Before Opening Convocation, held the day before their first day of classes as first-years, students process through the back doors of Dallas Hall, across the Rotunda and onto the Main Quad as new members of the SMU student body.
On Saturday morning, the all-University May Commencement Convocation assembles degree candidates from all of SMU’s schools and professional programs in Moody Coliseum. Students and faculty, dressed in full academic regalia, march to the ceremony to processional music.
Doctoral candidates and honorary degree recipients are hooded, Commencement speakers address our newest class of candidates, and the University president confers degrees. At the conclusion of the ceremony, “Varsity” is played and a prayer is said for the new alumni.
Diploma Presentation Ceremonies
Wearing full academic regalia, graduates are individually recognized in school or departmental ceremonies.
Continue reading below for information on regalia and symbols.