Graduations and Graduate Recognitions Procedures

Graduations and Graduate Recognitions Procedures


The Office of Alumni and Student Relations


Director of Alumni and Student Relations





Effective Date:


Implementation History:

Approved: 1980; Revised December 2013; December, 1984; January, 1995; October, 1995 , November 2010


Graduation, Graduate

Background Information:


The purpose of this statement is to set forth Empire State University's procedures on graduations and graduate recognition celebrations, with specific reference to the planning of them. These ceremonies are public events and are official functions of the university. As such, it must always be understood that the university be represented at its best. Ultimately, the Dean is responsible for the event itself.

All centers hold a graduation each year. With the approval of the Center or School Dean, a unit may hold its own graduate recognition celebration. Deans determine names of those expected to be able to participate based on the procedures related to graduation clearance (see related academic procedures, graduation clearance.) Broad responsibility for planning the event rests with the Center Dean and the local alumni/student association working in close cooperation with the Office of Alumni and Student Relations.

Graduations are vitally important to the university's mission. They bring people together and create a sense of unity and collective accomplishment. This is of significance in an institution where the educational process is highly individualized. The graduation creates an official public expression of achievement. For the degree candidates, it is a time to experience the larger university, to meet other candidates, faculty and administration. It is a key time to remind degree candidates of their sense of belonging to the university as they join the alumni constituency. Degree candidates, from the entire center including graduate students, are invited to the event. The President, Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost, or Cabinet member are authorized to confer degrees formally at such occasions. All graduating students are invited, and strongly encouraged to wear academic robes for the graduation. All members of the platform party will wear full academic regalia, as well.

Unit Graduate Recognition Celebrations are also important, although less formal and more individualized. These events allow degree candidates to be recognized in their local communities. All degree candidates from the unit shall be invited to the event. No formal conferral of degrees occurs at these occasions, which are celebratory rather than official.


Graduation—The process of being awarded a degree. Candidates apply for graduation and a degree review is conducted.

Graduation Commencement – Participation in the graduation ceremony and crossing the stage during the event that is the recognition by the community of the degree achievement.



  1. Dates for graduations are established on the approved University Calendar after consultation between the dean, regional constituencies, and the director of alumni and student relations. The Secretary to the President coordinates the University Calendar and will give final approval to the dates.
  2. Graduation guest speakers external to the university are invited by the University President, or designee, upon the recommendation of the Dean. 
  3. Funds for graduations and graduate recognition celebrations will be provided by approved Student Activity Fee proposals. These proposals are submitted by March of each year and reviewed by the Student Activity Fee Committee.
  4. Participants in graduations and graduate recognition celebrations shall be referred to as Degree Candidates.
  5. All invitations and programs shall be printed at the SUNY Empire distribution center and shall be of standard format and produced in consultation with the Director of Alumni and Student Relations. Candidates will be listed in the program by degree category. Areas of concentration may not be included. An asterisk will appear after the word candidates to indicate a footnote. At the bottom of the page the asterisk will be repeated followed, in very small typeface, by the words: "Subject to completion of requirements." University titles shall appear on the back cover, names only will appear inside the program.

The Office of Alumni and Student Relations will provide assistance to centers and units in planning graduations and graduate recognition celebrations.

Applicable Legislation and Regulations

Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices

This policy is to be implemented according to procedures described in “A Guide to Graduations”

Graduation Application and Clearance Policy