Here Is What Will Happen at UVA’s 189th Final Exercises Weekend

The University will award more than 7,000 degrees during its 189th Final Exercises.
May 11, 2018

The University of Virginia is preparing to welcome tens of thousands of people to Grounds for graduation weekend. Here’s what’s on tap.

May 18: Valedictory Exercises

The festivities will kick off Friday at 3 p.m. with Valedictory Exercises on the Lawn. National Football League great and UVA alumnus Chris Long will address the crowd. Long studied sociology and played for the Cavalier football team from 2004 to 2007 before going on to win two Super Bowls, most recently in February with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In addition to his success on the field, Long is a passionate philanthropist. The defensive end donated his entire 2017 season salary to charity. He donated his first six game checks to fund scholarships in Charlottesville in a strong rebuke of the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville in August. He and his wife Megan said in a statement at the time, “We decided to try to combat those actions with our own positive investment in our community.”

Later that season, he announced he would give his remaining 10 checks to help needy youths in the three cities where he has played professionally: Philadelphia, Boston and St. Louis.

His Chris Long Foundation also raises money for “Waterboys,” an initiative he founded to bring clean water to villages in East Africa.

Valedictory Exercises also will include the presentation of various awards and the bestowing of the 2018 class gift, to be accepted on the University’s behalf by President Teresa A. Sullivan, who is stepping down in July. Admission is free and the public is welcome to attend.

To provide a safe environment for degree candidates, faculty, family and guests, the University has implemented a clear bag policy – similar to the policy used at athletic events and other large gatherings – and is utilizing metal detectors for Valedictory Exercises as well as Final Exercises.

May 19 and 20: Final Exercises

On Saturday, degree candidates in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences will begin their Final Exercises on the Lawn at 10 a.m.

Sunday’s ceremony, also beginning at 10 a.m., will feature degree candidates from UVA’s other schools (and from the Data Science Institute):

  • School of Architecture
  • Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
  • School of Continuing and Professional Studies
  • Curry School of Education
  • Darden School of Business
  • School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • School of Law
  • McIntire School of Commerce
  • School of Medicine
  • School of Nursing

Sullivan will deliver the keynote address at both Final Exercises ceremonies. This continues a long University tradition of outgoing presidents delivering the commencement address. Sullivan took office in 2010 as the University’s eighth president and the first woman to hold that position.

The University will bestow 7,072 degrees this year:

  • 4,238 baccalaureate degrees (103 earned in three years, five in two years)
  • 457 first professional degrees 
  • 2,377 graduate degrees, including 323 Ph.D.’s, 13 Doctor of Education degrees, 24 Doctors of Nursing Practice and four Doctors of Juridical Science degrees.
  • 1,107 of this year’s graduates are international students.

Following Final Exercises, individual schools and departments will have diploma ceremonies. Check here for the locations of Saturday’s departmental ceremonies. Attendees can find Sunday’s ceremony locations here. The links also include information about rain locations.

In the event of severe weather, Valedictory and Final Exercises will take place at John Paul Jones Arena.

For text alerts about programming and weather-related developments, text “uvagrad” to 79516.

Public parking will be available at several locations, including Scott Stadium and the John Paul Jones Arena. Shuttle bus service to the Lawn is provided. (More information here.)

Food stands will be located throughout Grounds on Finals Weekend. Light breakfast items will be offered for sale Saturday and Sunday mornings. Food stands will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch items will be available beginning mid-morning.

Guests may watch live broadcasts of both Final Exercises ceremonies in these climate-controlled, remote viewing locations: the Alumni Hall ballroom, Chemistry Building Auditorium, Culbreth Theatre, Gilmer Hall auditoriums (rooms 130 and 190), the Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library Auditorium, Newcomb Hall Ballroom and Theatre, and the Student Activities Building. Additionally, there is a dedicated remote viewing site for persons with limited mobility on the third floor of Newcomb Hall.

Visit the Finals Weekend website for further information.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications