Campus News

Important Commencement, Reunion Weekend Update

April 29, 2015

Danielle Young

Dear Faculty and Staff:

On behalf of the Commencement/Reunion Weekend committees, I want to share some information about the 2015 commencement ceremony. As you know, First Lady Michelle Obama will receive an honorary degree and speak during the 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. At the same time, her visit will, by necessity, require considerable security measures and modifications of plans. Representatives across campus are working diligently on arrangements, and we are partnering with the City of Oberlin 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 First Lady Michelle Obama will arrive in Oberlin the morning of Monday, May 25, and will be here for a very short time prior to the commencement ceremony, which is now scheduled to start at 10 a.m. She will also exit the stage and leave town after the presentation of her honorary degree and her speech to the graduating class. She will not be on the stage during the commencement address by Marian Wright Edelman or during the conferring of degrees.

While we do not yet have all of the details regarding likely road closures and other security measures, we do have some information that we wanted to share with you. We will send additional updates to the campus community as we get closer to Commencement/Reunion Weekend.

How is access to the ceremony being managed?


  • Seating (in the chairs set up in front of the stage) for the commencement ceremony will be ticketed and is limited. Standing-room attendance on the lawn within Tappan Square does not require tickets.
  • Each graduate who is eligible to march during the commencement ceremony will receive a ticket for seating, as will all faculty who process and plan to stay for the ceremony.
  • Each graduate may request up to six tickets for guaranteed ceremony seating for parents and family members through the Commencement/Reunion Weekend registration site through 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 15. Tickets are not to be sold and are non-transferable.
  • Due to limited seating, we encourage those who are unable to stand or to sit on the lawn and 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. Information about the streaming of the ceremony will be posted on the commencement website.


How will security procedures change our plans?


  • Tappan Square, where the commencement ceremony will be held, will be enclosed and secured.
  • No one will be allowed to enter within the enclosed area of Tappan Square prior to 8 a.m.
  • All attendees will go through airport-like security and should bring as few personal items as possible.
  • Tickets will be required for guaranteed seating during the commencement ceremony. No ticket, no entry to the seated section of Tappan Square. Standing-room only entry into Tappan Square does not require a ticket.
  • No large bags, backpacks, sharp objects, lawn chairs, umbrellas, or signs will be allowed in Tappan Square.
  • Cameras, small purses, blankets, and water bottles are permitted.
  • Any items not allowed in by security will be disposed of if left outside the secured area. Oberlin College is not responsible for unapproved items that are left outside of the secured space during the commencement ceremony.
  • 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.


I want to thank all of our colleagues who are working on the special arrangements for Commencement/Reunion Weekend, as well as the entire community for your patience and assistance as we look forward to this historic ceremony.

All my best,

Danielle Chair of the Commencement/Reunion Weekend Committee

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