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Commencement Weekend: What to Do

Everything you need to know


As approximately 20,000 guests begin to converge on campus in anticipation of Boston University’s 139th Commencement exercises, they will find lots of ways to celebrate the Class of 2012. Many of the events will take place on campus, but others are designed to give visitors a view of Boston and its rich cultural heritage.

The weekend will culminate on Sunday, May 20, beginning with the Baccalaureate Service at Marsh Chapel at 11 a.m., followed by the all-University Commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. at Nickerson Field.

Online registration for most of the weekend’s events has ended. If you still need to purchase tickets, call Events & Conferences at 617-353-2248.

Before the weekend starts, students should pick up caps and gowns at Barnes & Noble at BU. Candidates for bachelor’s and master’s degrees must purchase their academic garb, but doctoral candidates can rent theirs. Note: Rentals must be returned by May 24 to avoid a late fee. Transcripts will be withheld by the University for any student failing to return rental items.

Most parking facilities will be open, but guests are strongly advised to use shuttle buses because traffic will be heavy. Visitors may want to use the MBTA’s Green Line B trolley to get to the Charles River Campus.

Parking for the disabled will be available without a reservation or special pass throughout the weekend for students and guests attending individual school convocations or other Commencement-related events. However, for Sunday’s all-University Commencement, the Babcock Street lot will be reserved from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. for handicapped-accessible parking by permit only.

Following is a list of Commencement events and activities.

Friday, May 18

School and College Convocations

Schools and colleges will hold individual convocations at various times and locations throughout the weekend, beginning Friday, May 18.

Senior Champagne Reception

Family, friends, deans, and administrators will raise a glass to the Class of 2012 at the annual champagne reception. The celebration is from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Track and Tennis Center, 100 Ashford St. Tickets are $15. Students can purchase as many tickets as they wish.

20th Annual Comedy Night

Headlining this 90-minute show is Greg Fitzsimmons (CGS’87, CAS’89), who has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien. The show starts at 8 p.m. in the CGS auditorium, 871 Commonwealth Ave. Admission is $20.

Saturday, May 19

Individual School and College Convocations

Schools and colleges will hold individual convocations at various times and locations throughout the weekend, beginning Friday, May 18.

Riverboat Cruises on the Charles

Enjoy a cruise along the scenic Charles River with family and friends. Boats leave from the BU Sailing Pavilion every 15 minutes between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., rain or shine. To get to the pavilion, take the Marsh Chapel Footbridge, near the BU Beach, to the Esplanade, turn left and walk toward the BU Bridge. This event is not accessible to the disabled. Admission is $5.

BU Beach Bash

Stop by the BU Beach, behind Marsh Chapel, 735 Commonwealth Ave., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for live music, face painting, BU giveaways, and more. Food concessions will be available as well.

Celebration 2012 Dinner

Celebrate with classmates and families at a buffet featuring a variety of salad, pasta, entrées, and desserts. Beer, wine, and soft drinks are included; cash premium bar service is also available. Two seatings are offered: 5 p.m. (ideal for guests attending the Pops performance) and 8 p.m., at the Fuller Building, 808 Commonwealth Ave. Admission is free for children under 3, $15 for children ages 3 to 12, and $30 for adults.

98th Annual BU Night at the Pops

If you already have a ticket for the Boston Pops concert, you’re in luck because the event is sold out. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, email bugrad12@bu.edu or call Events & Conferences at 617-353-2248. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston.

Boston University Commencement 2011

Photo by Vernon Doucette

Sunday, May 20

Baccalaureate Service

The all-faith Baccalaureate Service begins at 11 a.m. at Marsh Chapel, 735 Commonwealth Ave. Information about other worship services is available here. The Honorable Sandra L. Lynch (LAW’71) is the Baccalaureate speaker.

All-University Commencement

The all-University Commencement ceremony begins at 1 p.m. at Nickerson Field. Except for disabled guests, there is no reserved seating for friends and families of graduating students. Eric E. Schmidt is the Commencement speaker.

Individual School and College Convocations

Schools and colleges will hold individual convocations at various times and locations throughout the weekend, beginning Friday, May 18.

Commencement Webcast

Unable to attend Commencement at Nickerson Field? Not to worry. View the entire ceremony live via webcast. You can also listen to the ceremony on Boston University’s National Public Radio station, WBUR 90.9FM.


Eric E. Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, will deliver the University’s 139th Commencement address.

The Honorable Sandra L. Lynch (LAW’71), chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, will speak at the Baccalaureate Service.

Honorary degrees will be presented at the all-University Commencement ceremony to Schmidt, Lynch, Norman R. Augustine, aeronautical engineer and retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, Thomas G. Kelley, U.S. Navy captain and retired Massachusetts secretary of veterans services, and Leonard S. Nimoy, the Emmy-nominated actor best-known for his iconic role as Mr. Spock on the TV series Star Trek; Nimoy is also a director, a recording artist, an author, and a photographer.

Tom Vellner can be reached at tvellner@bu.edu.


One Comment on Commencement Weekend: What to Do

  • Liz Phillips on 05.17.2012 at 12:50 pm

    Don’t miss Jeffrey Hatcher’s play THREE VIEWINGS, co-presented this weekend by BCAP (the professional extension of the BU School of Theatre) and New Repertory Theatre! Tickets are only $10 for BU Students and their families. Performances run May 18-20 at the BU Theatre, Lane-Comley Studio 210, 264 Huntington Ave. BU Bus accessible. Running time: 90 minutes.

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