Class of 2021 Commencement Celebrations

Congratulations to the Class of 2021 on your Commencement! We are proud of your achievements and recognize your hard work, dedication and patience during the past year.  Commencement is a day our RWU community looks forward to every year. It is a day we celebrate our students’ accomplishments and share the joy as we mark the closure of their RWU journey and wish them well as they venture into their new endeavors.



President's Reception

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The pre-recorded 2021 Commencement Speaking program will be shared for all to view on the website Saturday, May 22 for all to view at their leisure.

Grad Walk Schedule

2021 Grad Walk Schedule


These links will go live at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.

NOTE: There is a link for the Grad Walk in the Fieldhouse and a link for the Grad Walk in the Gymnasium. Check your school for your location in the schedule above.

Fieldhouse 2021 Grad walk CLICK HERE

Gymnasium 2021 Grad Walk CLICK HERE

  • If graduates made a slide and are NOT attending the Grad Walk, those slides will be shown on the Fieldhouse live stream link after the last in-person walk. Only graduates who made a slide will be shown.


To view the webinar that aired on Thursday, May 20 at 11:00 a.m. click HERE. A full Graduation information guide was emailed to all eligible graduates multiple times and can be accessed HERE.  This includes:

  • Information for graduating students participating in the Grad Walk, how the Grad Walk will work, what you and your guests can expect on the day, how to prepare for the day, etc. 
  • Information for graduating students who are not participating in the Grad Walk.
  • What the Virtual Commencement Speaking Program is and how and when to view it.
  • And more!

Safety Measures

Under the guidance of the Center for Disease Control and the Rhode Island Department of Health, all safety protocols will be followed:

  • Surfaces will be sanitized between each school grad walk.
  • Hand sanitizers will be available throughout the building.
  • Students, guests and staff will be socially distanced at all times.
  • Students, guests and staff will be required to wear masks at all times.
  • Please view the COVID policy below regarding testing for students, guests and staff.


All staff, students, guests, and vendors MUST wear a mask at all times when on campus. We are aware the CDC recently changed mask guidelines, however, masks still must be worn on the RWU Campus.

Please see further detailed information below:


*We are governed by the State of RI on ALL COVID protocols for Commencement to keep all students, guests, faculty and staff healthy and safe.  We must adhere to the COVID plan the State of RI approved for RWU.  Thank you for understanding.

Every person stepping foot on campus must be tested 72 hours prior to arrival and have proof of a negative COVID test to enter the building and participate in the Grad Walk. BOTH PCR and Rapid test results are acceptableIf you cannot show proof of a negative COVID test, you may not enter the building and you cannot participate. 

Please click HERE to go to the Rhode Island COVID website for testing locations.

Vaccination cards are NOT accepted in lieu of a negative COVID test, per the State of Rhode Island. Vaccinated individuals can still carry and spread COVID. All attendees for commencement, event those that have received a vaccination, must provide a negative test result of a recent COVID test taken 72 hours prior in order to participate in the event. This is a requirement from the State of Rhode Island for our event and protects the health and safety of ALL students, guests, faculty, staff, vendors and volunteers.

Please reference your group below for further testing details:


Graduating students should continue their twice weekly COVID testing on campus. All seniors who are in our twice a week testing plan will be covered if they test on Tuesday (for the President’s Graduation reception Wednesday) and on Thursday (before the Saturday ceremony).  Graduates that test positive will NOT be allowed to participate in the Grad Walk and will need to enter quarantine, per University policies.


Students that are remote this semester and would like to test on campus, will need to enter the campus testing program two (2) weeks prior to Commencement and have a COVID test taken72 hours prior. If you are a remote senior and would like this option, you must notify by May 3 (with your name, student ID, and contact info) so you can be entered into the system.

If testing off site, you need to test 72 hours prior to the day and show proof of a negative COVID test result before participating in the Grad Walk.  


ALL guests are required to have a COVID test taken 72 hours prior to their arrival on campus and MUST show proof of a negative test result before entering the Grad Walk.  Any guest who cannot show proof of a negative test result will be refused entry. Guests who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 still have to take a test and show proof of a negative result, per the State of Rhode Island.


ALL staff working and volunteering for Commencement Saturday and Sunday must continue in the campus testing program, testing twice a week.  We remind staff to schedule their second weekly test Wednesday/Thursday of Commencement week.  If an employee tests positive, they cannot come to work/campus and we ask they let us know they cannot work their shift in advance. If any employee that is scheduled to work commencement day and does not feel well the day of, they will be asked NOT to come to campus and notify us in advance.



All staff, students, guests, and vendors MUST wear a mask at all times when on campus. We are aware the CDC recently changed mask guidelines, however, masks still must be worn on the RWU Campus.


All staff, students and guests MUST practice social distancing directed by the State of Rhode Island.  Stay at least three (3) feet from people outside the same household.  There can be no gathering of groups

RWU must adhere to all rules set forth by the State of Rhode Island regarding COVID.  All of the above COVID protocols and procedures above will be strictly enforced.


  • Please follow signage to enter campus from the North entrance (by the athletic fields). Bristol Police Department and RWU Public Safety will be directing traffic.
  • All graduates and guests should park in Lot D, by the North Campus Residence Halls. Handicap guests can park in any handicap spot on campus.
  • If you arrive to campus extremely early to avoid traffic, we understand. We just ask that you remain in your car until it’s time to report for your check-in.
  • PROHIBITED ITEMS: Balloons, air horns, noise makers, weapons, obstructive signs, or any other obtrusive items are NOT allowed at or during the Grad Walk and will be confiscated at the door. Please be respectful of all graduates and guests.
  • MOBILE PHONES: During the Grad Walk, we ask all graduates, guests, and staff to silence their mobile phones so every Graduate’s name can be heard.


Location: Rec Center Vestibule (main entrance)

When you arrive on Saturday, there will be two lines to enter the Rec Center for the Grad Walk Check-in. Please identify your Grad Walk location in advance; it’s also on your Grad Pass. There will be signage and volunteers to help direct you on the day.

  • There is only ONE entrance for the Grad Walk, the Rec Center main entrance.. Any person needing the handicap entrance should use the ramp into the Rec Center.
  • Graduates should arrive on campus dressed in their regalia and ready to go.
  • Graduates and their 2 guests MUST check-in together. Please plan accordingly.
  • Graduates and their 2 guests need to check-in together at the Grad Walk Check-in table 15-minutes prior to the graduate’s schedule time slot.
    • Ex. If you signed up for a 9:45 a.m. time slot, you should be checking in at 9:30 a.m. in the Rec Center.
  • Please don’t bring anything to the Grad Walk that you are not willing to carry throughout your Grad Walk. There will be no place to store or place bags, purses, personal belongings, etc.


  • The Graduate and their 2 guests must remain in their pod throughout the Grad Walk, with the exception of the stage cross.
  • After check-in, the graduate and their 2 guests will stay in their respective Line A or Line B down the main ramp inside the Rec Center.
  • At the end of the ramp, the two lines will split, and a volunteer will direct Line A to the Fieldhouse and Line B to the Gymnasium.
  • In the Fieldhouse/Gymnasium, volunteers will keep each pod in a socially distanced line.
  • As you approach the staging area, the graduate and their 2 guests will be separated into two lines, (Graduate line and a Guest line) staying parallel with each other.
  • The guest line and the graduate line will move forward as directed by staff/volunteers.
  • When it’s time, the graduate will be directed by staff to the right of the stage, and their two guests will be directed to the left of the stage.
  • The Graduate will pick up a diploma cover from the Registrar’s table.
  • The Graduate will hand their Grad Pass to a staff member to be scanned.
  • The Graduate will wait for a cue from staff to step up on stage.
  • The Graduate’s name will be read as they walk to a marked spot on stage.
  • The Graduate will stand on the mark, remove their mask, hold their diploma cover for their official graduation photo.
  • After the photo, the graduate will be directed to exit the stage for another photo in front of the green screen off-stage.
  • After the second photo, the graduate will put their mask back on, be congratulated by their Dean, and rejoin their 2 guests.
  • The graduate and their 2 guests will exit the Grad Walk location, either out the back ramp of the Fieldhouse or the back doors of the Gymnasium.
  • During the graduate’s cross and photo op on stage, their two guests will be directed to a mark on the left side of the stage to stand so they can have optimal view of the stage to take photos and see their graduate have their celebratory moment.
  • Friends and family viewing the livestream of the stage cross, will see their graduate in live view framed with a lower third banner on the screen, including their name, degree and honors. They will hear the graduate’s name read, as well.
  • The guests will reunite with their graduate after their second photo op off stage.
  • The Graduate and their two guests will be given two official Commencement program books before they leave as a keepsake.
  • Each Grad Walk location will each have it’s own livestream link on the RWU website for all to view. The links will be go live on the DAY OF COMMENCEMENT.
  • We ask graduates and their two guests to exit the building after their grad walk so we can make sure each graduate gets their time on stage for their registered time slot.
  • Unless you still need to move out, we kindly ask graduates and guests to leave campus after their Grad Walk.

During the Grad Walk, graduates will receive their diploma cover. They do not receive their actual diploma at Commencement. The physical diploma is mailed to the graduate after commencement via the Registrar’s Office.

Questions regarding your diploma?  Please contact the Registrar's Office HERE.

  • To maintain the health and safety of our community, and to meet the restrictions of the State of Rhode Island, graduates will be allowed to bring no more than two guests to watch their processional, and then will immediately depart campus to view the remainder of the ceremony remotely. 
  • For the health and safety of our campus community, graduates, family and friends, everyone must wear a mask at all times on campus (indoors and outside) and provide proof of a negative Covid test taken 72 hours prior to the day. All guests are required to have a COVID test taken 72 hours prior to their arrival on campus and MUST show proof of a negative test result before entering the Grad Walk.  Any guest who cannot show proof of a negative test result will be refused entry.
  • Masks are required per RWU Campus Policy.
  • Guests who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 still have to take a test and show proof of a negative result, per RWU's agreement with the State of Rhode Island.
  • The virtual commencement ceremony, which will highlight the Keynote speaker, the student commencement speaker and the student National Anthem singer will be pre-recorded and posted on the Commencement website to view.
  • The Grad Walk will be live-streamed on RWU’s Commencement website for family and friends to view.
  • After Commencement, a final, polished video will be posted on our website that will include all pre-recorded segments and the live recordings.
  • If students are eligible to graduate, they will receive an official email from the Registrar's Office confirming their eligibility.  
  • Only students eligible to graduate per the Registrar's office will be able to register for the Grad Walk.

Questions regarding graduation eligibility should be directed to the Registrar's Office HERE.

A full Graduation information guide was emailed to all eligible graduates May 12 and can be accessed HERE


  • Print out your Grad Pass and bring it with you to the Grad Walk for check-in.
  • Please arrive dressed in your regalia, ready to go for your Grad Walk.
  • Masks are required of all graduates, guests, staff, and volunteers, per RWU policy. 
  • Check-in with your 2 guests 5 minutes prior to your scheduled Grad Walk time slot. YOU MUST CHECK-IN WITH YOUR 2 GUESTS.
  • Please don’t bring anything to the Grad Walk with you that you are not willing to carry throughout your Grad Walk. There will be no place to store or place bags, purses, etc.
  • Bags will be checked by security before entering the building.
  • Don’t worry if you lost or forgot a piece of your regalia on that day. The Bookstore will be on-site, outside the Rec Center to assist any graduate with last minute needs before they enter the Rec Center.
  • Yes, you can decorate your cap for your Grad Walk! It is yours to keep. Please be mindful and respectful in your decorations.

*Graduates are allowed to bring two (2) guests ONLY.  There are NO exceptions to this rule.  

Thursday, May 20 at 11:00 a.m. - Graduation Webinar

We encourage all graduates to join the webinar so we may answer any outstanding questions you may have about Graduating and the Grad Walk.  The webinar link was emailed to eligible graduates on May 12.  It will be sent again in a reminder email.

VIRTUAL GRADUATES (Graduating students NOT participating in the Grad Walk)

  • Graduates who are unable or who have chosen notto participate in the Grad Walk, will be featured on the Field House live stream on Saturday, May 22, 2021 IFthey created a slide via Marching Order.
  • All Graduates had an opportunity to create a slide via Marching Order. If you forgot to make a slide, you have one last chance! Send an email to events@rwu.eduby FRIDAY, MAY 14TH4:00 P.M.
  • Graduates not participating in the Grad Walk will be mailed two official Commencement Program books after Commencement. Graduates will receive their Honors Tassels in the mail if they are not participating in the Grad Walk.
  • The Virtual Commencement Speaking Program, the live stream of the Grad Walks, and the graduate slides will be stitched into a complete video after Commencement and shared on the website in June.
  • All graduates, whether remote or in-person, can share their personal Grad Slide (if they created one) on social media to celebrate their Commencement.

Special Accommodations

Eligible graduates that require special accommodations to participate in the Grad Walk on Saturday should email prior to May 1st, 2021.

Graduates and guests should park in Lot D of campus.  Public Safety will be present to direct guests to the appropriate lot.

There are ample handicap parking spots in every parking lot on campus for guests requiring those needs.

Please reference the Campus Parking map HERE.

We ask students and their guests to arrive for their time slot accordingly.  We understand guests want to beat the traffic and may arrive too early for their time slot.  If you arrive to campus too far in advance of your scheduled time slot, please stay in your car until it's time to check-in.  We cannot have groups and gatherings outside the Recreation Center.  We appreciate your cooperation.

Graduates who participate in the Grad Walk will have their official stage photo taken by Island Photography, as well a second photo off stage.

The photo op after stepping off stage is in front of a green screen, which allows the graduate to choose the image from campus behind them. This will be done all via Island Photography.

Graduates will receive communications directly from Island Photography AFTER Commencement with instructions on how graduates can order prints of their photos.

Other professional photographers will be on site for the Grad Walk and those photos will be shared on the Commencement website after Commencement for graduates and families to view and save. Please allow a few weeks for these to be posted.

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

All eligible graduates are invited to a reception with the President on Wednesday, May19th, from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. in the Upper Commons on the Bristol Campus. 

Eligible graduates should register via the Marching Order Grad Walk registration link they received in their email.  Registration deadline is May 6th.

Business attire is required for this reception. This reception is for eligible graduates only; no guests are allowed.  

Questions regarding this event can be sent to


Only students eligible to graduate (confirmation by Registrar's office) and cleared by the Bursar's office to order and/or pick up their regalia.  Students who have outstanding bills with the Bursar's Office are considered "not cleared" and cannot pick up their regalia until they meet with the Bursar's Office and make amends.  Upon doing this, the Bursar's Office will give the student a "CLEARED" note to give to the Bookstore in order to pick up their regalia. 

Regalia distributors have been overloaded this Spring.  The Bookstore will email students when they have restocked regalia.  Please do not worry – all graduating students will receive their regalia.

ONLINE ORDERING IS NOW CLOSED DUE TO SHIPPING TIMES.  You'll need to pick-up your regalia in person at the Bookstore or make arrangements with them.  (Email link at the bottom of this section.)

TO PICK UP YOUR REGALIA FROM THE BRISTOL CAMPUS BOOKSTORE:  You will need to bring your RWU Student ID. Please be sure to wear your mask while in the store. Additionally, we are still limited to 15 people in the store at once.

Bookstore Hours: Monday/Tuesday 9a-5p; Wednesday-Friday 9a-4p; Saturday 10a-2p.

FAQ:  Can I decorate my cap?  YES!  Your cap is yours to keep.  We kindly ask that you be mindful and respectful in your decorations.

Questions regarding Caps & Gowns?  Contact the Bookstore HERE.

Tassels and Cords

Tassels and cords are distributed by the graduates respective honor society or organization.  Graduates should make sure they contacted their respective supervisor or organization to secure their cords and have them prior to Commencement.

The only tassels given out on the morning of Commencement will be for high honors (summa cum laude -- 3.8 GPA, magna cum laude -- 3.6 GPA, and cum laude -- 3.4 GPA). Those graduates receiving high honors will have the honor listed on the name card they pick up when they check-in for their scheduled Grad Walk. These honors are based on fall semester cumulative averages. Students must have completed at least 54 credits at RWU to be eligible to receive these honors. 


Students’ honors will be calculated based on their cumulative GPAs at the end of their final semester.  Please see the “Graduation with Honors” section under Academic Regulations and Policies in the Academic Catalog (click HERE) for questions regarding the calculation of honors. Honors tassels will be distributed by the Registrar’s Office. 

Questions regarding Honors tassels? Contact the Registrar's Office HERE.

The 2021 Commencement Speaking program is pre-recorded and will be posted on the Commencement website on Saturday, May 22, 2021 for all to view. The Commencement Speaking program can be viewed at anytime the viewer wishes.

The virtual Commencement Speaking Program will include:

  • President Miaoulis
  • Chairman Tim Baxter
  • Student National Anthem Singer
  • Student Commencement Speaker
  • Honorary Degree Recipients
  • Faculty in Excellence Award Recipients
  • Senior Class President leading the Turning of the Tassel
  • RWU Alumni Association President Greeting
  • Special remarks from the Dean’s
  • A Grad Walk is a constant, moving line of graduates processing across a celebratory stage.
  • The Grad Walk allows each graduate to step on stage, have their name read, and an official graduation photo be taken.
  • There is no sit down ceremony or speaking portion during the Grad Walk.
  • The Grad Walk allows thousands of students and their guests to each have their celebratory moment in-person to mark this special occasion.
  • The Grad Walk must continue to move to stay on schedule for each graduate.
  • Out of respect for your fellow graduating Hawks, please be prepared for your Grad Walk, check-in 15 minutes prior to your time slot, and be dressed and ready to go before you enter the Rec Center.

If you cannot find your answer on this webpage or need further help, please see the departments below to contact:

General Commencement InformationCommencement Office/Special Eventsevents@rwu.edu401-254-3166
Caps & Gowns, Rings, Frames, Graduation AnnouncementsBookstore 401-254-3036
Outstanding BillsBursar 401-254-3520
Lavender GraduationIntercultural Centergporcaro@rwu.edu401-254-3591
Degree Applications, Graduation eligibility, Diploma questions, Address Change, Honors TasselsRegistrargraduationcoordinator@rwu.edu401-254-3151
Student Commencement Speaker ApplicationStudent Lifesbenevides@rwu.edu401-254-3042
Senior Events, Commencement Fair, Senior PortraitsStudent Programs & Leadershipclassof2021@g.rwu.edu401-254-3088