Commencement - Christopher Newport University - Christopher Newport University

May 11, 2024

Commencement Day is a blend of the traditional pomp and circumstance we all cherish and the unique, very personal ceremony that CNU has offered recently. We surveyed our seniors, listened to their preferences and those of their families and we think the result will be memories to last a lifetime.



Commencement at Christopher Newport isn’t just a day, it’s a week-long series of events. From all of the fun senior week activities to special ceremonies like Candlelight, Latin Honors and the Graduate Studies Ceremony to departmental receptions and awards, there is a jam-packed schedule to honor and celebrate our graduates! The week culminates with Commencement Day Activities on Saturday, May 11. Click the schedule tab to find out more and plan out your week.

About Commencement Day

Commencement day kicks off with the Baccalaureate Degree Conferral Ceremony for graduates on the Great Lawn. The ceremony begins with all of the pomp and circumstance of the grand processional with the Class of 2024, our faculty and stage party, continues with all the formalities of the degree conferral process, an address from President Kelly, the singing of the alma mater, and concludes with the grand recessional featuring a key CNU tradition – the faculty gauntlet. From processional start to the end of the recessional, it is roughly a 1 hour program. Guest seating is limited for the conferral ceremony. Each graduate will be allotted two seats in the reserved seating section for guests, but there is unlimited standing room and it will be livestreamed. Many guests choose to line the processional route so they can watch and capture their graduate’s march up the lawn. Please note, graduates' names are not called out nor do they walk across the stage at the conferral ceremony–this happens during the Grad Walk.

Following the Degree Conferral Ceremony our graduates reunite with their family and friends to spend the day together enjoying the defining traditions that are associated with being a Captain–the penny toss, graduate hooding, visiting the Alumni House, departmental receptions, ringing the bell and, of course, to have their moment walking across the stage during the Grad Walk. If graduates bring guests to the Degree Conferral Ceremony, it is recommended that they make a plan of where to meet up following the Degree Conferral Ceremony, as there will be significant movement on campus.

The Grad Walk is separated into college blocks and each graduate registers for a time within their block to join the Grad Walk Queue and walk across the stage. Now, this is the part where Christopher Newport is really different! Unlike traditional ceremonies that have you sitting in the hot sun for hours, hundreds of feet from the stage, waiting forever just to barely glimpse the graduates, Christopher Newport allows graduates and their guests to walk right up to the stage TOGETHER! The graduate and their entire guest group enters the queue for the Grad Walk, they take part in the hooding tradition and then once they arrive at the stage, the graduate goes up the ramp to the stage and all of the guests walk directly in front of the stage to witness their graduate’s walk across, have their name read, receive their diploma cover and shake hands with the President. You are close enough to talk to each other and capture that picture-perfect moment. And, for those with mobility restrictions, we have a special seating area to wait right in front of the stage until their group arrives. For those joining from afar, the Conferral Ceremony and the Grad Walk will be livestreamed.

Graduates and guests are welcome on campus to enjoy as much, or little, of the day as they choose. There is no limit to the number of guests that can attend Commencement, even if it rains! There will be plenty to do and people to see and celebrate with! All across campus there will be event zones that feature different experiences and traditions that graduates and guests can walk between and participate in together—at their leisure and in whichever order they choose. There are only two time constraints during the day – the Conferral Ceremony and the Grad Walk. Graduates will select the time they join the Grad Walk Queue when they register for Commencement in April. To view all that campus will have to offer graduates and their guests on Commencement Day, be sure to download the Commencement Activities Map!

Commencement will be a day filled with celebration, music, multiple family photo ops, and plenty of poignant and unforgettable moments. We hope to see you there!

A campus map of Christopher Newport describing Commencement activities.

Questions? Please contact the Office of University Events at

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