As more than 3,100 students prepare to graduate from the University of Chicago on Saturday, June 12, preparations for the University's 503rd Convocation ceremony will be evident throughout the campus.
This year the University will hold, for the first time since 1929, a Spring Quarter ceremony that includes the College, the Divisions, and the Schools all together. This ceremony will be similar to Convocations now held at the end of the Summer, Autumn, and Winter quarters, except that the larger number of graduating students and their guests require the additional space of an outdoor venue. Separate diploma ceremonies will be held by the College and each Division and School on Saturday, following the University-wide ceremony. The return to the tradition of a University-wide ceremony in spring replaces the recent practice of holding four separate sessions over three days.
To accommodate the larger-scale ceremony and the 20,000 guests expected to attend on Saturday, the University will be constructing a temporary covered stage at the eastern edge of the Main Quadrangle, and will fill the Main Quadrangle with more than 20,000 chairs to accommodate degree candidates in addition to their families and friends. Large screens also will be set up on the Main Quadrangle to assist guests in viewing the exercises. Preparations for the event are beginning Monday, June 7, and continue through Friday, June 11, resulting in a high degree of activity in and around the Main Quadrangle this week. The temporary stage will cross over the main pedestrian path in the Main Quadrangle, blocking both foot and vehicle traffic along that pathway. Emergency vehicles and others needing access to the Main Quadrangle will enter through Cobb Gateway on 57th Street this week. Tents for various activities also will be set up in Harper Courtyard and next to the John Crerar Library and Bartlett Dining Hall.
On Saturday, between 5 a.m.-5 p.m., streets alongside the west, north, and east sides of the Main Quadrangle-Ellis Avenue between 57th and 59th streets; 57th Street between Ellis and University avenues; and University Avenue between 57th and 59th streets-will be open only to pedestrian traffic and emergency vehicles. Parking at the University is also expected to be in demand on Saturday; all University garages and surface lots will be open and available to Convocation guests and University employees on a space available basis.
For students and guests staying downtown, the University will be operating a shuttle service from the Gleacher Center, 450 N. Cityfront Plaza, and from the Hyatt McCormick Place, between 6 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. The shuttle will drop off and pick up guests on campus on the Midway Plaisance at Ellis Avenue.
Access to the Main Quadrangles on Saturday morning between 7 and 11:30 a.m. will be only through entrances on Ellis Avenue (to the north and south of the Administration Building). All guests, faculty and staff who wish to access offices in Main Quadrangle buildings Saturday morning will enter through the Ellis Avenue entrances. Note that the entrance for guests who have registered in advance for special access will be from the southeast corner of the Main Quadrangle, off of University Avenue. After 11:30 a.m. Saturday access to the Main Quadrangles also will be open from the east end along University Avenue.
Organizers recommend that guests arrive early for best seating; tickets are not required and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The ceremony will take place outdoors, rain or shine; in the event of severe weather, the ceremony may be delayed, shortened, or canceled. Guests are encouraged to be prepared for rain, as well as for high temperatures and direct sun exposure. For guests who prefer to watch the ceremony from indoors, simulcast viewing will be available in Kent Hall, near the northwest corner of the Main Quadrangle; seating will be limited.
"Bringing the University's schools and divisions together as one has been a stated goal of Convocations since the University's first one in January 1893. In returning to that format this year, and by adapting it to the University's now larger size and scale, we are reaffirming and preserving deeply held institutional values and traditional practices that contributed to the University's identity," said David B. Fithian, Vice President and Secretary of the University. Fithian's office oversees University Convocations.
The 503rd Convocation also preserves the tradition of a faculty speaker; this year the speaker is Paul Sereno, Professor in Organismal Biology and Anatomy. All degree candidates and their guests will take part in the awarding of Honorary Degrees and certain University medals, which in the past were presented at one of the four separate sessions.
To help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all guests to the University and for members of the Hyde Park community, additional police and security will be on hand throughout the weekend, and the University will deploy additional resources for trash removal on campus and the surrounding neighborhood.
For more information about Convocation, visit: http://convocation.uchicago.edu.
- Convocation parking and transportation map
- Convocation ceremony map
- Convocation line-up map (for degree candidates)