Commencement Traditions

graduates posing for a photo

Academic Attire

Roanoke College wears the traditional academic black robe during the commencement ceremony. The graduation cap is a flat cap with a tassel draped over its front edge.

chaplain giving a speech


Baccalaureate takes place on the Friday afternoon before the Commencement ceremony on Saturday morning. This celebratory event is an important part of Commencement exercises and is an occasion for thanksgiving as our students complete their educational program. All graduates and guests are encouraged to attend. 

the college mace

College Mace

The College Mace dates back to the Middle Ages when it was used as a weapon. Today, it is primarily used as a symbol of academic authority at formal convocations and commencement ceremonies.  

graduates walking to commencement

Processional Banners and Flags

Banners and flags are used during Commencement ceremonies and Baccalaureate. Banners are hung during Baccalaureate to represent Roanoke College and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. During Commencement flags are flown as representations of international students and honor clubs.

student hugging president maxey

Senior Week

The week before graduation, Roanoke College and Alumni put on different events throughout the week leading up to Commencement to honor the graduating seniors.

rooney in a graduation cap and gown

Rooney's Feet

Since Rooney's unveiling in the spring of 2009 as Roanoke's mascot, it has become tradition for the mascot personality to show up for the Commencement ceremony with the enormous Rooney feet sticking out from beneath the black commencement robe, revealing their identity.