Commencement Celebration for the Graduate Class of 2021

pergola

Georgia College invites all May 2021 and August 2021 master's, specialist, and doctoral candidates to join us on May 6-7 or May 13-14 for a special on-campus commencement event.  This indoor event has been specifically designed to give you the opportunity to walk across the stage and to celebrate your accomplishment with loved ones, while following COVID-19 safety guidelines to keep you, your guests, and the GC administration and staff safe.

Update

Following the May 13th announcement from the Centers for Disease Control on masks and physical distancing for individuals who have been fully vaccinated, we are amending the protocol for these ceremonies.  Masks will be optional for participants, guests, and staff.  We will continue to have face masks available for any individual who would like one. 

We will also continue our other COVID-related safety protocols (outlined below), including a limit on guests, distanced seating, cleaning after each session, and temperature checks so individuals who may not be vaccinated will still feel comfortable participating in the ceremony.  President Dorman and the individuals who seat you in the Centennial Center will wear masks when you interact with them.

Is this a traditional ceremony?

Not quite.  But it will look like commencement and it will include the best parts of the commencement ceremony.  You will be able to bring four guests to celebrate with you.  During the ceremony, your degree will be conferred, your name will be read, you will have the opportunity to walk across the stage, and you will be congratulated by the president. 

Reservations required

Advanced reservations are required to participate.  Please be sure to print your registration page; you will need this to check in.

Arrival

You and your guests should arrive together at the Georgia College Centennial Center, 251 S. Clark Street, Milledgeville, Georgia, 31061, at least fifteen minutes before your session start time.  You must bring your reservation page with you.

Parking and transportation staff members will direct you to a specific parking area.  Please follow their instructions and remain with your vehicle.  Portable restrooms will be available in the parking area for public use.  

Another staff member will come to your vehicle to check you in and provide additional instructions.  You will remain with your vehicle until instructed by a staff member to enter the Centennial Center as a group.  Entry will be paced to ensure adequate social distancing between groups.

Late arrivals will not be admitted to the Centennial Center.  You may have the opportunity to participate in a later session if space is available.

Guests

You may bring up to four guests with you to the commencement experience.  All guests, regardless of age, will be counted in your four guest limit.  Additional guests will not be allowed to enter the building or congregate outside.  There is no overflow seating.

The Centennial Center is an accessible facility.  However, if one of your guests requires the use of a wheelchair or other mobility accommodations, you must provide that equipment.  We will not have wheelchairs on site.  Guests will also need to enter and leave the facility at a steady walking pace; please take this into consideration as you plan.

Your guests will remain with you during the entire experience.  The five of you will constitute a social unit and will be seated together.  You should plan to arrive together and leave together immediately after the experience.  It is your responsibility to ensure that your group has taken appropriate measures to ensure their safety, including limiting inclusion to your immediate family or social group. 

Participation requirements

Our team has worked extremely hard to ensure that you, your guests, and the GC staff members assisting you feel safe before, during, and after the event.  To participate, you and your guests must agree to and follow these safety precautions. 

You and your guests must remain as a group as you enter, participate in the ceremony, and exit.

Following the May 13th announcement from the Centers for Disease Control on masks and physical distancing for individuals who have been fully vaccinated, we are amending the protocol for these ceremonies.  Masks will be optional for participants, guests, and staff.  We will continue to have face masks available for any individual who would like one.  President Dorman and the individuals who seat you in the Centennial Center will wear masks when you interact with them.

You and your guests must agree to and clear a temperature check as you enter the building.  Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or higher will not be admitted.

There will be no contact at any point.  There will be no handshakes on stage.

All activity in the Centennial Center will occur on the first floor.  There will be no access to the second floor or the elevator.

You and your guests will enter the southeast entrance of the Centennial Center and will exit on the southwest corner.  Upon exiting the building, you and your guests should return to your vehicle and depart the Centennial Center lot immediately.  We encourage you to go to the Front Lawn, the fountain, and other sites on main campus for photos after your session.

Additional safety protocols

The entire staging area, as well as high-touch areas such as stage railings and doors, will be thoroughly cleaned before and after each ceremony.

Live internet viewing

Each ceremony will be broadcast live over the internet from the Georgia College graduation page.  

Regalia

Please have your regalia on when you enter the Centennial Center.  You will immediately enter the ceremony staging area, and there is not a place for you to change into your robes inside.

Your regalia will include either a master's/specialist or a doctoral robe, a cap or doctoral tam, tassel, and a hood with appropriate colors and trim for your degree.  To purchase regalia, please order online at Barnes & Noble at Georgia College before April 16 to ensure delivery prior to the ceremony.  Regalia will not be available at the Centennial Center on the day of the event.

On the day of your ceremony, you should wear your graduate hood; due to social distancing requirements, we will not hood graduates on stage.  Our regalia vendor, Oak Hall, has excellent videos online for master's and specialist students and for doctoral students to help you correctly prepare and wear the hood for the ceremony. 

U.S. military personnel may wear appropriate military dress uniforms in lieu of regalia.  Hoods, cords, or other regalia should not be worn with military dress .

Cords, Stoles, and Medallions

Graduate students traditionally do not wear cords, stoles, or medallions that were received as an undergraduate, nor do they receive cords or stoles at the graduate level.  The graduate hood represents the significant accomplishment of completing a master's, specialist, or doctoral degree.  Graduate students who are members of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi may wear the medal they received at induction with their graduate regalia. 

Cap Decorating

Master's and specialist candidates are encouraged to decorate their cap.  Inspirational messages, celebrations of achievement, university pride, and expressions of gratitude are particularly appropriate.  Decorations should be limited to the top surface of the cap and should lay flat to the mortar board.  Decorations should be consistent with Georgia College’s Code of Conduct and reflect our commitment to the 3Rs.  The university reserves the right to require graduates to remove their cap if it is deemed inappropriate.  If you have questions about whether or not your decoration is appropriate, you may email a picture of your cap to registrar@gcsu.edu in advance of the ceremony.  

Doctoral tams should not be decorated.

Photographs

As you cross the stage, our graduation photographer, GradImages, will take a posed picture of you and a posed picture of you and President Dorman.  At this time, your guests may also quickly take pictures and videos of you on stage.  As you exit the stage, GradImages will take a group picture of you and your guests.  GradImages will provide proofs to you at the email address on your reservation form approximately one week after the ceremony.

All graduates and guests must properly wear face coverings throughout the ceremony, including during photographs and recognition on stage.

Pictures on campus

We hope you will take advantage of our beautiful Milledgeville campus for additional pictures on the day of your ceremony.  As you do, please be respectful and environmentally conscious by not leaving confetti, glitter, or other debris behind after your photo shoot.

Special accommodations

If you or your guests need special accommodations, please notify Disability Services at 478-445-5931 or by email at disability@gcsu.edu no later than Friday, April 16, so we can be prepared to assist you.  The earlier you can contact us, the better opportunity we will have to hire providers who can assist you.  To minimize the number of individuals in the building, we will not have services on standby.  The ceremony will be captioned for individuals with hearing difficulties.

Faculty

To follow health and safety guidelines, there will be no processional or recessional during the commencement experience.  There will be no marching faculty for these unique events.

Prohibited items

Although GC does not anticipate any security problems, we constantly monitor the events to protect the safety and security of our guests. All who enter the Centennial Center for commencement are subject to search, as are all carried items. You and your guests are asked to leave behind certain items that are prohibited because of security reasons:

  • No large bags, back packs, large purses or items larger than 12 x 12, except for items pertaining to medical conditions or child care
  • No firearms, knives, explosives or other weapons
  • No artificial noise makers, air horns or megaphones
  • No large signs or flags that may obstruct views, poles, banners, balloons or laser pointers
  • No outside food or drinks
  • No drones or any unmanned flying vehicles allowed in the commencement venue or anywhere on the GC campus during commencement weekend without prior approval from GC Public Safety and in coordination with University Communications 
  • No animals, other than service animals as outlined by the U.S. Department of Justice.  Please refer to the ADA for common questions relating to service animals.  Please note that emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals are not considered service animals under the ADA.

GC Public Safety has the authority to prohibit any other items deemed to be a security risk. Prohibited items must be returned to the owner’s car or discarded, and any unlawful items are subject to confiscation.

Tobacco-free campus

Guests also are reminded that all facilities of Georgia College are tobacco, electronic cigarette and vaping device-free. The use of all tobacco products including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes and devices that simulate the use of tobacco are prohibited anywhere on GC grounds.

Commencement program

Students who submitted their graduation application by Wednesday, March 31, will have their name included in the commencement program.  Copies of the program will be placed on guests' seats prior to their arrival.

Diplomas

Participating in the commencement ceremony does not guarantee that all degree requirements have been completed or that the student has graduated.  Diplomas will be mailed to the address the student has provided on his or her graduation application after the Registrar has received final grades for the student and verified that all degree requirements were satisfied by the last day of the semester in which the degree is to be awarded.  This process normally takes 1-2 weeks following the end of the term. 

Diploma frames

Church Hill Classics is Georgia College’s authorized vendor for diploma frames.  Students may order online, or obtain more information from Barnes & Noble at Georgia College.