Commencement Weekend Information & FAQ

Dear Families & Friends of the Class of 2020:

Commencement is a celebration for your graduate, you, your family, and the college. It is a time to reflect on accomplishments achieved and to look forward with great anticipation to all of the opportunities that will unfold. We hope you will be able to join us for this very special occasion.

Paul Habernig, Commencement Coordinator

Commencement Newsletters

May 2020 Newsletter

February 2020 Newsletter

December 2019 Newsletter

Commencement Weekend Information & FAQ


Students may choose to order personalized Commencement announcements, name cards, thank you notes, and other items from Jostens. You may order directly from the Jostens website at or call 1-800-854-7464.

Class Rings

Class rings may be ordered through the Herff Jones representative Yona Benyamini at 845-440-1116 or

Closed-Circuit Broadcast

The Commencement Ceremony will be broadcast live through the College’s closed-circuit system and can be viewed from any campus television.

Commencement Gifts

If you are interested in seeing what the Hartwick College Barnes & Noble Bookstore offers for Commencement gifts, we encourage you to visit their website. The ever-popular diploma frame is available to order through Barnes & Noble Bookstore as well. The Bookstore will also provide tables with memorabilia on Elmore Field for those who wish to purchase a gift on the day of the ceremony. You may contact the bookstore by email at or by telephone 607-431-4342.

Flower Sales

There will be a flower vendor, Commencement Flowers, on the grounds near the Commencement tent prior to the start of the ceremony and after the ceremony if you wish to purchase flowers for your graduate. By clicking the link above you may also pre-order flowers to pick up the day of the ceremony.


Hartwick has retained the professional commencement photography services of Genesee Photo Systems. Each graduate will be photographed. A few days following Commencement, the graduates will be notified by email when images are available to view and purchase online.

The website for Genesee Photo Systems is For additional information, or should you have any questions, please call 1-800-345-7427 or email


The Commencement ceremony will be webcast live on the Commencement webpage beginning at 11:30 a.m. on the day of the event. The ceremony will also be webcast on and the College’s YouTube Channel as a Live Event.

Note: Streaming video from the webcast links will be intermittent until just before the ceremony.


Commencement General FAQ

Q: Who may attend Commencement?
A: This year’s ceremony may be attended by graduating seniors, guests, and those Hartwick community members who are part of the day’s celebration. Elmore Field will be available to guests at 10:30 a.m., and not earlier. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved in advance.

Q: Does Hartwick offer alternative viewing options for those who cannot attend the event in person?
A: Hartwick has made provisions for alternative viewing of Commencement through:

  • Webcast/Live Streaming: To view the webcast, go to the Commencement webpage and click on “Webcast of Commencement.” (The link will be posted on Commencement Weekend.)
  • Multiple viewing locations will be available around campus on the day of ceremony, including Lambros Arena in the Binder Physical Education Center.

Q: What should seniors wear during the Commencement ceremony?
A: We remind students that Commencement is the most formal academic ceremony, and professional attire is appropriate. We also recommend that students keep in mind that Upstate New York weather can be unpredictable. Rain will make for a very soft field surface, where a stiletto heel may be neither functional nor safe.

Q: What accommodations are available for people with special needs?
A: Seating is available for guests in wheelchairs or with mobility limitations on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking placards may be requested to assist with accessing the drop off point. Arrangements requested at least 14 days in advance (September 12) are available for an interpreter for the hearing impaired. Arrangements must be made through Leah Elwood at or 607-431-4435.

Shuttles and vans will be available to transport guests from each of the parking lots to a drop-off location outside Binder Physical Education Center. In addition, the drop-off location next to Binder is where guests with wheelchairs or those with mobility limitations will be directed for parking accommodation upon request. Please note, certified handicap tags are not required to use this drop-off location. We recommend that guests indicate their interest in using this drop-off area when arriving on campus. Golf carts will also be available at the same location to transport guests to the Commencement tent and return them to the drop-off area following the ceremony.

Q: What attire is appropriate for Commencement guests?
A: Central New York weather in September can be unpredictable so flexibility and practicality are good planning principles. Dress with an eye to the weather and comfort. Low heels, wedges or flats are appropriate for navigating the grass and terrain of Elmore Field. Rain gear, including water-repellant or waterproof footwear, may be important; rain ponchos are preferred over umbrellas so sightlines are not blocked. Based on our weather extremes, layers of clothing is a suggested strategy. (A collared shirt, tie optional, is appropriate men’s attire . )

Q: Where do I park on Commencement Day?
A: Campus Safety personnel and parking attendants will be stationed at all campus entrances and around campus on Commencement Day to direct guests to parking lots. Shuttle service will be provided to transport guests from parking lots to Elmore Field, the venue for the Commencement Ceremony, to Binder Physical Education Center. The Binder parking lot adjacent to Elmore Field, as well as spaces adjacent to and below Binder, will be reserved for handicapped parking, and only cars with a visible handicap sticker or tag will be allowed to park in these locations.

Also, elevators in Golisano Hall will take guests to the lower entrance of Binder Physical Education Center, and then again to the field level where the ceremony will take place.

Additional parking has been made available off campus with free shuttles to and from Binder Physical Education Center. Parking locations and details will be made available at the beginning of September.

Commencement Parking Map

Q: Where do guests sit during Commencement Exercises?
A: We will offer seats on Elmore Field to more than 3,200 guests to view the Commencement Ceremony. Elmore Field will be open to guests at 10:30 a.m., not earlier. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved in advance.

Q: What happens if it rains?
A: Rain, unfortunately, is not an infrequent occurrence in Central New York . Unless weather conditions are dangerous or severe (i.e. lightning), Commencement will take place on Elmore Field, although processions and programs may be shortened or altered. Fortunately, our guest seating is under a tent. However, if rain is forecast, ponchos are the rain gear of choice. They provide unimpeded sightlines and aid in the comfort of guests who would otherwise be on the receiving end of umbrella runoff.

Q: Where is the guest entrance?
A: Elmore Field, adjacent to Binder Physical Education Center, is the venue for the Commencement Ceremony. Guests may arrive on campus from any entrance on Commencement Day and will be directed by Campus Safety to the appropriate parking lot. Shuttle service will be provided to transport guests from parking lots to the Ceremony site. In addition, for those guests who would like to enjoy the beautiful views from Oyaron Hill, signs and volunteers will be posted along the walkways to assist in directing foot traffic to Elmore Field.

Q: Should I reserve rooms for overnight accommodations from Friday to Saturday or Friday to Sunday?
A: Guests who wish to stay in the local area, should review local accommodations information. Availability is limited, we recommend booking rooms as far in advance as possible.

Commencement 2020 FAQ About Rescheduled Events

Q: What day and time will Commencement be during True Blue Weekend?
A: The Commencement ceremony will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 11:30 a.m. on Elmore Field. The members of the True Blue Weekend Committee have unanimously agreed that the Commencement ceremony will be the highlight and signature event of the weekend.

Q: Why was this date chosen for the Commencement ceremony?
A: There were many considerations in picking this date. Most importantly, we wanted to make this a true celebration. An August ceremony is truly not practical given the heat and humidity at that time of year. We do not have an air conditioned venue large enough to accommodate all of your guests, many of whom could be negatively impacted by the weather. We are all uncertain how long we will be impacted by COVID-19. Scheduling the event a little later in the fall helps us increase the chance that we will be able to follow through with our plans.

Q: What if I can’t make the Ceremony, because of work or other commitments that weekend?
A: Many of you are unaware of what your professional schedule will be after you leave Hartwick. For us to choose a date based on individual potential availability would be impossible. We will work with you and your family to make sure you receive your cap and gown, diploma cover, and Hartwick bell given out at the ceremony.

Q: Will all of the Commencement events be moved to True Blue Weekend, including Senior Send Off?
A: Currently the committee is working together to plan the schedule of events. We are working to find the appropriate time and location for each event based on the reason for the event. We will share the final schedule once it has been approved.

Q: Will the Nurse’s Pinning Ceremony be rescheduled for True Blue Weekend?
A: In an effort to highlight Nurses pinning during TBW, the committee will be finding a time to reschedule this event. We are working with the Nursing department to finalize the details.

Q: Will there be enough parking if we have families there for both True Blue and Commencement?
A: In addition to on campus parking, the committee is working with the City of Oneonta to secure off-campus parking and free shuttle service for the morning of Saturday, September 26, 2020.

Q: What happens to the athletics games during True Blue Weekend?
A: The Athletics Department is working to adapt the game schedule to allow for the logistics of the Commencement ceremony. A new schedule of athletic events will be made available once it has been approved.

Q: What hotels are available for me and my family to stay?
A: Hotel accommodations must be made by each individual graduate and their families. Rooms are still available at many of the local hotels. However, we encourage you to look beyond the immediate Oneonta area for hotel accommodations and plan accordingly.

Q: Will I still graduate in May, even though the ceremony is in September?
A: Seniors who were scheduled for a May graduation date will still have May 16, 2020 as their official graduation date on their diploma and transcript. Diplomas will be mailed in June to the address listed on your degree application. All students with a graduation date between December, 2019 through and including December, 2020 will be invited to participate in the newly scheduled Commencement ceremony, to be held on September 26, 2020.

Q: If I don’t participate in the Ceremony, will my name still be in the program?
A: As always, Hartwick College includes every graduating senior who has completed their degree requirements in the program. Only the graduates in attendance will have their names read during the Ceremony.

Q: Do I have to wait to receive my degree until after the Ceremony?
A: No, your degree will be mailed to your permanent address over the summer.

Q: When will we receive our caps and gowns?
A: Cap and gown pick up will take place on Friday, September 25, as well as directly before the Ceremony on Saturday, September 26.

Q: Can I have my cap and gown before the Ceremony?
A: We will be holding caps and gowns until September 25-26, 2020. This will ensure that everyone participating in Commencement will have their cap and gown in addition to any cords or stoles. The Commencement Committee will re-evaluate this plan once the faculty and staff are back to campus. If we are unable to proceed with the Ceremony as planned, we will mail your cap and gown.

Q: How do I get my honor cords?
A: All cords will be packaged with your cap and gown for distribution during pick up.

Q: How do I get a copy of the 2020 Commencement program?
A: The printed Commencement program will be handed out at the rescheduled ceremony.

Q: What are the new deadlines for registering for commencement events?
A: We are working with our partners to update the important deadlines to reflect our change in schedule. Updated deadlines will be shared soon. Registration for Commencement events during True Blue Weekend will be handled separately.

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