Here’s What You Need to Know About The 188th Final Exercises

Here’s What You Need to Know About The 188th Final Exercises

The University will award nearly 7,000 degrees during its 188th Final Exercises. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

Tens of thousands of people will be at the University of Virginia for its 188th Final Exercises weekend, May 19, 20 and 21, presided over by President Teresa A. Sullivan.

At Friday’s 3 p.m. Valedictory Exercises on the Lawn, students will pay tribute to their fellow classmates, presenting the Class Gift and University/Class Awards. The ceremony also features a speech from the keynote speaker selected by the Class of 2017 Trustees, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end his country’s protracted war with Marxist guerrillas. His son, Esteban, is receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy and leadership from the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

The first graduation ceremony on Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m., will award degrees to students in UVA’s largest school, the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Deborah McDowell, director of UVA’s Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies and Alice Griffin Professor of Literary Studies, will give the keynote speech.

Sunday’s ceremony, also beginning at 10 a.m., will feature students from UVA’s other schools:

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

Students in the Data Science Institute will also participate. Sunday’s keynote speaker is Robert Pianta, Novartis U.S. Foundation Professor of Education and dean of the Curry School of Education.

In total, between 30,000 and 35,000 people are expected to attend Finals weekend.

Both days, students will participate in  school- or department-specific ceremonies at sites around Grounds following Final Exercises.

Graduation is a ticketed event. Each graduate receives six tickets for admission to the Lawn, which can be picked up at the UVA Bookstore before Finals Weekend. The days and times that tickets are available for pickup can be found here.

In all, 6,698 degrees will be conferred. Included in that figure are 4,084 baccalaureate degrees, 133 of which were earned in three years and seven in two. UVA will confer 465 professional degrees and 2,165 graduate degrees, including 326 Ph.D.s, 15 Doctor of Education degrees and 19 Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees.

There are 3,815 graduates from Virginia and 1,082 from 108 international countries.

Social Media, Live Streaming, Text Messages and Remote Viewing

UVA encourages everyone to participate in Final Exercises on its social media channels.

Throughout the weekend, students and guests alike can share their excitement by taking snaps with the “UVA Grad” geofilters on Snapchat. Creative mortarboards and other joyful moments will be featured on UVA’s Instagram account.

Final Exercises will be livestreamed at and UVA’s Facebook page, where photos also will be posted all weekend long.

UVA’s Twitter account will share memorable moments of Final Exercises; tweet us @UVA. And students, use #UVAGrad and your social posts could be featured on the big screen during the ceremonies.

To receive important Finals Weekend text alerts, type “uvagrad” to 79516. Users will be automatically unsubscribed after Finals Weekend.

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, the Student Activities Building and Zehmer Hall Auditorium. Additionally, there is a dedicated remote viewing site for persons with limited mobility on the third floor of Newcomb Hall.

Inclement Weather

If inclement or severe weather plans need to be implemented for Final Exercises, the University will make an announcement in local media; on the UVA hotline (434-924-7669); the University’s home page,; the Finals Weekend website; and on the University’s Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels.

In the case of inclement or severe weather on Friday, Valedictory Exercises will move from the Lawn to the John Paul Jones Arena. An announcement will be made no later than noon. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

In the case of rain without the presence of thunder, lightning, high winds or other unsafe conditions on Saturday or Sunday, the University will hold Final Exercises on the Lawn, while all school and department graduation ceremonies will be held indoors. The designated locations for the school/department ceremonies will be available on the “School/Department Graduation Ceremony Locations” page.

If the weather is severe on Saturday or Sunday, Final Exercises will be moved to the John Paul Jones Arena and all school and department graduation ceremonies will be held indoors. Graduating students should arrive at the arena by 9:15 a.m. and proceed directly to the seating area on the main floor of the arena. Faculty will assemble in the Courtside Club, which is located on the bottom level of the arena, by no later than 9:45 a.m. Only guests with bar-coded tickets will be allowed entry. Due to the space limitations inside the arena, students will be limited to only three guests.

Inclement or severe weather plans for Saturday and Sunday will be announced no later than 8 a.m. each day.

Food stands will be located throughout Grounds, serving beverages and snacks on Finals Weekend. Light breakfast items (doughnuts, pastries, muffins, fruit juice, soda, bottled water and coffee) 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.

Information booths will be available around Grounds for guests who have questions or need assistance. These booths will also have Finals Programs available for distribution.

Security Checkpoints

Everyone attending Valedictory and Final Exercises ceremonies, including graduates, faculty and guests, will be subject to security screening before entering. All bags will be subject to search, which may delay entry into the venue. A “bag check lane” will be available for guests who choose to bring a bag with them.

Everyone wearing an outer garment such as an academic robe or coat will be asked to open it for a visual inspection. To expedite entry into the assembly areas, graduates and faculty are encouraged to don their robes after passing through the security checkpoint.

On Friday, security checkpoints for Valedictory Exercises will open at 1:30 p.m. and remain open until end of the ceremony. On Saturday and Sunday, checkpoints will open at 7:30 a.m. and remain open until the end of the ceremonies.

A list of prohibited items is available here

Parking and Transportation

For Friday’s Valedictory Exercises, guests may park free of charge at John Paul Jones Arena and ride a shuttle bus to Central Grounds.

On Saturday and Sunday, free parking will be available at John Paul Jones Arena, University Hall and Scott Stadium, with shuttle service leaving from the John Paul Jones Arena and Scott Stadium to Central Grounds.

First-come, first-served, paid parking will be available at the Emmet/Ivy Parking Garage and the Central Grounds Parking Garage for all three days, with no shuttle service provided. More information about parking, including shuttle bus routes and pick-up and drop-off locations, is available here.

Public parking will not be available on Central Grounds. McCormick Road will be closed from University Avenue to the McCormick Road Bridge from 1 to 6 p.m. on Friday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Allow extra transit time for all events due to increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications