Tens of thousands of people will descend upon the University of Virginia’s Grounds May 17 through 19 for Finals Weekend, the celebration culminating the 2018-19 academic year. Here’s what’s on tap for graduation weekend.
May 17: Valedictory Exercises
The festivities kick off Friday at 3 p.m. with Valedictory Exercises on the Lawn. Virginia Beach native and musician Pharrell Williams will be the keynote speaker.
A recording artist, Williams is also a producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, author and entrepreneur. He co-produced and co-scored the Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures,” written by best-selling author and UVA alumna Margot Lee Shetterly. He performed at “A Concert for Charlottesville,” held in September 2017 in UVA’s Scott Stadium in response to the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville a month earlier.
He has received 13 Grammy Awards and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ Golden Note Award.
The traditional kickoff event of Finals Weekend, Valediction is also the time when the Class of 2019 will present class gifts and receive University awards. Valediction is free and open to the public. (In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to John Paul Jones Arena; seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis, with doors opening at 1:30 p.m.)
Also on Friday, beginning at noon, the University’s ROTC units will hold Joint Commissioning Exercises for Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force candidates at the Old Cabell Hall Auditorium.
The auditorium will also be the site of the “Donning of the Kente” ceremony at 6 p.m. Tickets are required for this event sponsored by the Office of African American Affairs.
May 18: Final Exercises for Arts & Sciences Graduates
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.
The speaker will be Dr. Bryant Cameron Webb, assistant professor of medicine and public health science in UVA’s School of Medicine. A 2005 graduate of the College, Webb also is director of health policy and equity in the Department of Public Health Sciences and is a hospitalist in the Department of Medicine.
Webb participated in a yearlong White House Fellowship Program in 2016, during which he worked on President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, launched in 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color. He also served on the White House Health Care Team and helped lead a White House Drug Pricing Task Force.
Following the Lawn ceremony, Arts & Sciences departmental diploma ceremonies will take place. Times and locations are available here.
Also Saturday, the Curry School of Education and Human Development will hold its Doctoral Hooding Ceremony at the Darden School’s Abbott Center Auditorium at 10 a.m. The School of Nursing will hold its hooding ceremony at the Paramount Theater, 215 East Main St. on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, at 1 p.m., followed by its pinning ceremony at the theater at 4 p.m.
The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will hold its regalia ceremony at James Monroe’s Highland, 2050 James Monroe Parkway, at 5 p.m.
May 19: Final Exercises for Other Schools and Institutes
Sunday’s ceremony, also beginning at 10 a.m. on the Lawn, will feature degree candidates from the:
- School of Architecture.
- Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
- School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
- Curry School of Education and Human Development.
- Darden School of Business.
- School of Engineering and Applied Science.
- School of Law.
- McIntire School of Commerce.
- School of Medicine.
- School of Nursing.
- Data Sciences Institute.
The speaker will be Dorrie K. Fontaine, retiring dean of the School of Nursing.
Fontaine, a critical care and trauma nurse, has been Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing and dean of the School of Nursing since 2008.
Among the hallmarks of her 11-year tenure at UVA has been a focus on creating a healthy work environment, including compassionate care; interprofessional education, where nurses and physicians train together; and creative efforts for inclusion and diversity.
In 2009, Fontaine founded UVA’s Compassionate Care Initiative, with a mission of alleviating human suffering through developing compassionate people and systems. The initiative nurtures students, faculty, staff and clinicians to become resilient and know that caring for themselves provides a foundation for the safe and exceptional care of others.
Fontaine is UVA’s fifth nursing dean since the school’s founding in 1901.
Following Sunday’s Final Exercises, individual schools and departments will hold graduation ceremonies. Check here for Sunday’s ceremony locations.
Degrees awarded: The University will bestow 7,090 degrees this year, including:
- 4,211 baccalaureate degrees (151 of these earned in three years, five in two years).
- 457 first professional degrees.
- 2,448 graduate degrees, including 311 Ph.D.s, 12 Doctor of Education degrees, 20 Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees and 10 Doctor of Judicial Science degrees.
- 1,210 degrees earned by international students.
Weather: In the event of severe weather on either Saturday or Sunday, Final Exercises will take place at John Paul Jones Arena.
Security: Everyone attending Valedictory Exercises and both Final Exercises ceremonies, including graduates, faculty and guests, will be subject to security screening before entering the Lawn or John Paul Jones Arena. All bags must be in compliance with the University’s clear bag policy. Metal detectors will be used at the designated entrance points onto the Lawn and all entrances to the John Paul Jones Arena.
Parking: Public parking will be available at several locations, including Scott Stadium and John Paul Jones Arena. Shuttle bus service to the Lawn is provided. (More information here.)
Remote broadcasts: Guests may watch live broadcasts of both Final Exercises ceremonies in these climate-controlled, remote viewing locations: the Alumni Hall ballroom, Culbreth Theatre, Gilmer Hall auditoriums (rooms 130 and 190), the Harrison Institute and Small Special Collections Library auditorium, and Newcomb Hall Ballroom and Theater. Additionally, a dedicated remote viewing site for persons with limited mobility will be offered on the third floor of Newcomb Hall.
Visit the Finals Weekend website for further information.