Commencement ceremonies spread out over two days

New traditions will be started with this year’s commencement ceremonies.

Four smaller ceremonies at which Ph.D., business school, master’s and bachelor’s graduates will be recognized individually will be held Friday, May 16, and a plenary ceremony for all graduates will be held Saturday, May 17.

Keith Cooper, chief marshal for commencement

Keith Cooper, chief marshal for commencement

“The growth in enrollment of both graduate and undergraduate students was making Rice’s unified commencement ceremony untenably long,” said Professor Keith Cooper ’78, chief marshal for commencement. “To address this problem, Rice is organizing the 101st commencement into five proceedings. At the Friday events, each individual degree recipient will be named, presented and congratulated. The plenary event on Saturday will focus on the communal experiences of graduation – the academic processions, the commencement address and the conferral of degrees.”

The Master’s Convocation will be held at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Tudor Fieldhouse. All recipients of a master’s degree or a Bachelor of Architecture degree, except for those who will participate in the Jones Graduate School of Business’ Investiture ceremony, should attend.

The Jones School Investiture will be held at 1 p.m. Friday in Tudor Fieldhouse. All degree recipients from the Jones School are expected to attend, along with all faculty members who have an appointment in the Jones School.

The Ph.D. Hooding will be held at 3 p.m. Friday in Stude Concert Hall at Alice Pratt Brown Hall. Ph.D. recipients are expected to attend, along with the faculty member whom they have selected to hood them, typically their thesis adviser.

The Bachelor’s Convocation will take place at 7 p.m. Friday in the Academic Quadrangle (Tudor Fieldhouse in the event of inclement weather). All recipients of a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree are expected to attend. Each student will cross the commencement stage, receive a diploma tube and be congratulated. The ceremony will feature brief remarks from a student-selected member of the graduating class, from one of the college masters and from President David Leebron. The ceremony is expected to last two hours and 15 minutes and will end with a student-written trumpet fanfare and fireworks.

The Plenary Commencement will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Academic Quadrangle (Tudor Fieldhouse in the event of inclement weather). All graduates and faculty members are expected to attend. The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. with the laying of a wreath on the tomb of William Marsh Rice and the traditional singing of the Latin hymn “Veni Creator Spiritus,” followed by the academic procession of faculty and degree recipients.

The first half of the Plenary Commencement will include speeches by the presidents of the Student Association and Graduate Student Association and Leebron as a prelude to the commencement address by Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of the global poverty-fighting organization CARE USA.

The second half of the ceremony will feature the formal conferral of degrees to each group of candidates by type of degree (doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s). After the singing of Rice’s “Alma Mater,” the assembly will be led through the Sallyport to Founder’s Court.

For more information on commencement, visit



About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.