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Congratulations and Last-Minute Reminders

May 20, 2021

This weekend, we will officially conclude the academic year by celebrating you, our newest degree recipients, during Final Exercises.  As you prepare to walk the Lawn on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, I write with my personal congratulations and also a few reminders.

Precautions for Warm Weather

The current weekend forecast predicts temperatures up to 90 degrees.  Graduates and guests should wear lightweight attire and comfortable shoes.  For both graduates and guests, we will be taking extra measures to ensure safety and comfort:

  • Water will be available in the assembly areas and at the stadium for graduates.  Water will also be available at the stadium for guests.
  • Guests will be permitted to have umbrellas in the stadium given the heat.
  • Medical staff will accompany the procession and will be at the stadium during the ceremony.  For emergencies, there will be cooling areas available in the stadium for all attendees. 

Pre-Procession Event

Pre-Procession Event with Ms. Kathy (and Breakfast/Lunch Pickup) at 1515.  Before lining up at the Rotunda for your procession to Scott Stadium, be sure to stop by 1515 on the Corner to say goodbye to Ms. Kathy of Newcomb Hall fame and pick up a free breakfast or lunch burrito and beverage.  A tradition for several years now, this informal event gives graduates some quick nourishment for the day and provides them with a chance to receive well-wishes from Ms. Kathy.

Hours for the event at 1515 are:

  • Friday, May 21: 6 – 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 22: 6 – 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 23 : 6 – 8 a.m.

Note: Unfortunately, Ms. Kathy is unable to attend on Sunday morning.

Schedule of Events

For the five Final Exercises ceremonies, graduates will assemble at the Rotunda at the following times:

  • May 21, 22, and 23 morning ceremonies:
    • 8:15 a.m.          Graduates assemble at the Rotunda
    • 9:00 a.m.          Procession begins
  • May 21 and 22 afternoon ceremonies:
    • 1:15 p.m.          Graduates assemble at the Rotunda
    • 2:00 p.m.          Procession begins

To reach the assembly areas, all graduates will go through a security checkpoint located on the north side of the Rotunda close to University Avenue.  Diagrams of the assembly areas can be found on the website.

Security Policies and Reminders

Metal detectors: Metal detectors will be used at the designated entrance points into Scott Stadium.

Clear Bag Policy: Attendees (graduates and guests) will only be able to carry the following style and size bag into the stadium:

  • A bag that is clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC and does not exceed 12”x6”x12”
  • A one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar).
  • One small clutch bag, approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap can be taken to the event along with one clear plastic bag.

All other bags will not be permitted. A list of prohibited bags includes, but is not limited to: purses, backpacks, drawstring bags that are not clear, briefcases, coolers, fanny packs, luggage, computer bags, camera bags, binocular cases, and diaper bags.

Both graduates and guests attending Final Exercises are encouraged not to bring items that will delay lines to access the stadium.

Celebrating Responsibly

Finals Weekend is a special occasion for all who participate.  Unfortunately, a few students miss the special moments each year because they have over-indulged the evening before and physically are unable to participate in the academic procession or ceremony.

While I recognize only a small number of students engage in this behavior, the few who do spoil the occasion for many others and disappoint their parents and guests.  I urge you to set some limits for yourself when celebrating, and to speak up if a friend seems to be overdoing it.  Your graduation day should be a day to remember – for the right reasons.

Should you choose to drink alcohol, please do so in moderation.  It is important to eat protein before and while you are consuming alcoholic beverages.  Protein, more than carbohydrates, will help slow down the effects of alcohol.  It is also important to space your drinks as well as alternate with water to stay hydrated.

Balloons and Glitter

The negative environmental impact of mylar and plastic balloons is well documented.  If you do bring a balloon, please keep others in mind since the size of some balloons impedes the procession and blocks others’ views.  To give your balloon(s) a second life, you may donate them to the UVA Children’s Hospital rather than releasing it into the air.  Collection points will be at the stadium’s entry/exit points.

In addition, the use of glitter for photographs creates an arduous task for our facilities workers who have to remove the glitter from sidewalks and surrounding landscaping.  As with balloons, glitter can be harmful to wildlife and the environment.

Walking the Lawn and taking your degree is a great achievement.  You have worked hard to become a graduate of the University of Virginia who has thus "worn the honors of Honor."  Finals Weekend is a special time to savor and to remember.  I wish you much happiness as you celebrate with family and friends, and as you take the next steps into your future.  I look forward to seeing you on the Rotunda plaza this weekend. 

With warmest congratulations,

Allen W. Groves (Law ’90)
University Dean of Students