Commencement 2021

May 23, 2021

Watch the livestream here!


The commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021 will be held on the afternoon of Sunday, May 23, at Wild Things Park, adjacent to W&J’s Ross Memorial Park and Alexandre Stadium in Washington, PA. This in-person, outdoor event will be ticketed and attendance will be limited based on health and safety protocols.

Time: 2 p.m. The gates will open at 12:30 p.m.
Location:   Wild Things Park, 1 Washington Federal Way, Washington, PA 15301
Rain Plan: Students and faculty will be in the James David Ross Recreation Center. Livestream viewing locations for guests are listed below.


Based on feedback from the Commencement Student Advisory Committee and from recent survey results, we are increasing the allotment of tickets for Commencement to four tickets per student. W&J will distribute the tickets ahead of time to ensure a smooth and efficient entrance to the park. The tickets are printed by the Wild Things.

The distribution of tickets is as follows. Please bring your college ID when picking up tickets:

  1. Tickets to Wild Things Park will be available for pick-up in the Rossin Campus Center Ballroom on Tuesday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, May 19 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, May 22 from noon to 2 p.m.
  2. Tickets are non-transferrable and cannot be replaced if lost. Tickets must be presented at the Park Gates to gain admittance on May 23. Vouchers will not be accepted.
  3. A Will-Call Tent will be set up outside of Wild Things Park if you are unable to pick up your tickets. W&J College staff will be there to assist in distributing tickets.

If you have already received your vouchers, please hold onto them. You will need your vouchers in case of a rain plan. Please see below for rain plan guidance.

Event Seating

Guests will be guided with signage for parking and to the appropriate gate for entering Wild Things Park. All guests entering the park will be required to wear a mask and maintain safe social distancing. In addition, guests must have a Wild Things ticket. Vouchers will not be accepted.

The Wild Things Organization is following CDC guidelines, as well as PA Department of Health Guidelines. Although outdoor capacity has increased to 75% per Governor Wolf’s announcement on Tuesday, May 11, venues must still allow for six-feet social distancing and mask wearing for large crowds. Wild Things ushers will be available to direct guests to their seats.

To ensure a safe and healthy environment during Commencement, the Wild Things Organization has printed each ticket with an assigned section and seat number . Guests will not be permitted to sit in other sections/seats. It is possible that guests may not be able to be seated with one another. Seating assignments are at the discretion of the Wild Things Park management team so that they can ensure adherence to social distancing guidelines.

Rain Plan

In the event of the rain plan being called we can only accommodate two guests per student in the locations we are using for live streaming. Students will need to make sure they give the vouchers to their guests for access to the streaming location that they have pre-registered for. Students will receive a reservation link via email that will allow them to choose which location they prefer. However, reservation will be on a first come, first serve basis. A college representative will check in guests at each location. Doors to the streaming locations will open at 12:30 p.m.

* In the event the rain plan is called, graduating students will be notified by email.

The number of guests allowed per student is based on the expected number of participants, as well as CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health Guidelines for both indoor and outdoor events (in case the ceremony needs to be moved indoors due to inclement weather).

Streaming Locations:

  • Salvitti Gymnasium
  • Allen Ballroom, Rossin Campus Center
  • Media Room, The Commons
  • Olin Theatre
  • Yost Conference Room, Burnett Center
  • Dieter Porter 100

Cap and Gown Distribution

Spring 2021 residential and commuter students can pick up their caps and gowns at the W&J Campus Store beginning on May 10. Spring 2021 remote learners can begin picking up their commencement regalia from the W&J Campus Store on May 17.

Current Campus Store Hours:
Monday - Friday - 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Commencement Weekend Hours:
Saturday, May 22 - 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 23 - 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Safety Policy

W&J Mask Policy: Masks must be worn in all public areas, including but not limited to classrooms, common spaces, dining facilities (except when eating), the Library, W&J sponsored events, meetings, or social gatherings. This requirement will be strictly enforced. Masks must be worn correctly by covering both the nose and mouth.

W&J’s top priority is the safety of our community and visitors and established campus safety protocols, including masking and social distancing, will be followed at Wild Things Park regardless of whether attendees have been vaccinated. W&J staff is monitoring guidance from the CDC and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the event that changes in the public health situation make it necessary to alter Commencement plans in any way.

President's Champagne Toast & Crossing of the Seal

On Saturday, May 22, the Class of 2021 is invited to reunite for two important W&J graduation traditions: the final Crossing of the Seal and the President's Champagne Toast. At 6 p.m., our graduates will gather in front of Old Main where President Knapp will lead a reflection on the Class of 2021's time at W&J. Following President Knapp's remarks, the tower bell will toll three times, inviting the graduates to Cross the Seal to signify the completion of their W&J journey and the beginning of a new chapter.

After crossing the Seal, members of the Class of 2021 will walk to the Burnett lawn where President Knapp and his wife, Kelly, will provide hors d'oeuvrees and champagne in a commemorative glass. Graduates will receive a gift welcoming them to the ranks of our alumni as we toast to their bright future. Formal invitations have been mailed to all members of the Class of 2021. Those planning to attend these gatherings should please check their email for an RSVP link, and respond no later than May 17, 2021.

Live Stream

A live stream of the Commencement ceremony will be available to those who are unable to attend the ceremony in person.

2021 Commencement Program

To follow along with the ceremony, and for a full list of graduate names and awards, download the 222nd Commencement Program.

Commencement Speakers

Social ethics leader, author, and NPR contributor Dr. Robert Michael Franklin, Jr. will be the keynote speaker at Washington & Jefferson College's 222nd Commencement Ceremony. Dr. Franklin's esteemed career includes work with three U.S Presidents and service to the boards of numerous organizations devoted to education and civic service. He has been a faculty member at the University of Chicago, Harvard Divinity School, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and at Emory University's Candler School Theology. He is the author of four books, and a regular contributor to the National Public Radio (NPR) program, "All Things Considered." Click here to learn more.

The Senior Selection Committee has chose Lena DiFulvio to represent the Class of 2021 as the Senior Speaker.

Celebrating the Class of 2021

Prompted by a suggestion from our SGA Communications Committee, we invited our seniors to submit photos of their time at W&J, which we've used to create a Class of 2021 Digital Memory Book to look back on some of our fondest memories. Follow the link to see the photos our seniors shared to reflect on their time at W&J.