Campus News

Commencement FAQs as of May 23, 2015

May 23, 2015

Danielle Young

First Lady Michelle Obama will receive an honorary degree and speak during Oberlin College’s 2015 Commencement ceremony. Oberlin College and the Ninde Scholars program are being recognized for supporting the First Lady’s higher education initiative, Reach Higher. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, will be the Commencement speaker.

We are excited to welcome the first lady to Oberlin and hope all of our guests enjoy this special day. We are working diligently to manage the logistics in a thoughtful manner in order to minimize the disruption as much as possible and to ensure that our graduates and their families have a truly wonderful and congratulatory celebration.

Please note that the Commencement ceremony procession is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.


Please be advised that fencing will be in place around much of Tappan Square, focusing on the northern sections where the Commencement ceremony will be held, as well as a few Oberlin College buildings. Guests may not straddle, walk between, or secure bikes to the fencing.


Seating (in the chairs set up in front of the stage) for the Commencement ceremony will be ticketed and is limited. Tickets are not to be sold and are non-transferable.

All ticketed guests are to enter on the east side of Tappan Square (Main Street/ Ohio Rt. 58). On May 25, Main Street will be closed for use as a pedestrian zone. Signs will indicate where ticketed guests should enter for screening, including those requiring ADA assistance. Public access to the screened sections of Tappan Square will begin at 7 a.m. and end at 10 a.m. No one will be allowed to enter the screened area of Tappan Square prior to 7 a.m. or after 10 a.m.

Graduates, faculty, and staff who are processing will enter on the west side of Tappan Square (N. Professor Street).

All ticketed guests and those processing will be required to go through airport-like security. If you leave the screened area, there will be no re-entry. All attendees should bring as few personal items as possible. Wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, cameras, small purses, and blankets are permitted. No large bags, backpacks, sharp objects, umbrellas, lawn chairs, bullhorns, megaphones, or signs will be allowed.

Please note: water bottles (both single use and reusable) may not be brought in to the screened area. There will be water stations on Tappan Square with water dispensers and cups. After the First Lady has left the stage, water will be available for sale at the concession stand for $2 per bottle.

Any items not allowed in through the screening area will be disposed of at the gates. Oberlin College is not responsible for unapproved items that are left outside of the screened area during the Commencement ceremony.


Lawn seating is available in the southern sections of Tappan Square for non-ticketed guests. Guests in lawn seating will be able to view the streamed ceremony in real time on a large screen. Airport-like screening will not be conducted for non-ticketed guests who are outside of the barrier; therefore, you may bring water bottles, umbrellas, lawn chairs, large bags, and backpacks with you.


Roads in the city of Oberlin that are in close proximity to Tappan Square will be closed on Monday, May 25, starting as early as 6 a.m. and through 1 p.m. 

  • North Professor Street will be closed from College Street to Butternut Ridge Road.
  • North Main Street (Ohio Rt. 58) will be closed from College Street to Maple Street.
  • Lorain Street (Ohio Rt. 511) will be closed from Cedar Street to Pleasant Street.
  • College Street will be closed from North Professor Street to North Main Street (Ohio Rt. 58).
  • Willard Street, behind the Oberlin Inn and the Allen Memorial Art Museum, will be closed.

Businesses in the city of Oberlin will maintain their normal Memorial Day hours. A road closure map is available on the Alumni Association website.


Parking in the city of Oberlin will be at a premium on Monday, May 25. We ask local community members to walk or bike to Tappan Square.

Parking will not be allowed around Tappan Square. Oberlin College parking lots between Bosworth Hall and First Church, behind the Oberlin Inn, next to Rice Hall, and behind Stevenson Hall will be closed from midnight to 3 p.m. on Monday, May 25.

Remote parking within walking distance of Tappan Square will be available at Oberlin High School (enter from North Main Street or North Park Street), Prospect Elementary School (36 S. Prospect Street), Eastwood Elementary School (198 E. College Street), and Sacred Heart Catholic Church (410 W. Lorain Street.)

In addition, remote parking with free shuttle bus service into downtown Oberlin will be available at Lorain County JVS (15181 OH-58) and the city of Oberlin Recreation Complex (225 West Hamilton Road, just west of Splash Zone). Shuttles will run continuously from these remote sites to Oberlin City Hall between 7 and 9:45 a.m. and from Oberlin City Hall back to the lots from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A parking map is available here.


Due to limited seating, we encourage those who do not have tickets to watch the Commencement ceremony via live streaming in Warner Concert Hall. Seating in Warner Concert Hall is on a first-come, first-served basis and tickets are not required. Doors will open at 8 a.m.

Streaming information will be available on the Commencement website and available for remote viewing on this webpage on May 25.

Local cable subscribers will be able to watch the Commencement ceremony on Channel 9.

Commencement updates, parking and road closure maps, a full weekend schedule, and last-minute changes will be available on the ObieCRW app designed by Guidebook. The ObieCRW app works on all web-enabled devices and can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play, or this website.


Oberlin College greatly appreciates the cooperation of local citizens, the city of Oberlin, the Oberlin Police Department, the Oberlin Fire Department, Lorain County Sheriffs Office, the public schools, Lorain County Joint Vocational School, and other organizations in support of this special event day.

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