February Letter

February 17, 2011

Dear Graduating Senior,

The information on this page is for students who are graduation in May 2011. The deadline for filing for the May 2011 was last November. If you failed to file an application, please do so IMMEDIATELY. You will have to pay a penalty in addition to the regular graduation fee. 

All information about Commencement will be posted here and sent to your Dominican email account. If you have arranged for your Dominican email account to forward messages to a private account, those messages will be sent to you. If you have never accessed your Dominican email account, please visit information technology so that you can set up your student account.

Please refer your parents, family members, significant others and friends to the Commencement site where they (and you) can obtain information about the ceremony. This site will be updated regularly.


Graduation for Undergraduates, those receiving a Bachelor's Degree.


Commencement Ceremony


Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. Gates open for seating at 8:00 a.m. It will be difficult to find a seat by 10:00 a.m. Seating is not guaranteed.


Forest Meadows Amphitheater. Print out a campus map so you don't get lost.

Tickets for Commencement Seating

All graduating seniors receive six tickets for seating at Commencement. Tickets are needed only in case of inclement weather. No senior will receive more than six tickets for any reason and no waiting list for additional tickets is kept. There are no extra tickets. Tickets will be distributed to seniors whose accounts are current. You will be able to pick up your six tickets.


Pick up your tickets

At the Business Services Office

  • Monday–Thursday, 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
  • Friday 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. 


Tickets will be available on Commencement morning if it looks like the graduation ceremony will be held indoors. We ask all seniors to limit the total number of guests to six even if Commencement is held outdoors. Please remember: your Dominican account must be current in order to pick up tickets and you must have applied for graduation in the Registrar’s Office.

Where does Commencement Take Place?

Commencement is scheduled for Forest Meadows Amphitheater, across Grand Avenue from main campus. It is located beyond the Conlan Recreation Center. Please go look at the site and print out a campus map. Forest Meadows is rustic. It is outdoors. Guests will need comfortable shoes for walking over gravel to the entrance to the amphitheater. Remind them to bring sunscreen, hats, cushions for seating, and water. Gates open for seating at 8:00 a.m. It will be difficult to find a seat by 10:00 a.m. Seating is not guaranteed.

How long does the Commencement Ceremony Last?

The program starts around 10:30 a.m.. In each of the past five years it started at 10:20 a.m. Yes, it started early. It should end before 12:30 p.m. Following the ceremony there will be a reception on the lawns outside amphitheater. Punch and similar beverages and cookies/scones/similar will be served. Because the ceremony usually lasts so long, it is difficult for some people, especially those with medical issues, to sit in the sun and heat for that long. There is no shade in Forest Meadows Amphitheater. Be kind to your guests and inform them of the length of the program and what the graduation site is like. 

What time must I be present for Commencement?

Be no later than 9:00 a.m. Pick up a card with your name on it at one of four tables near Angelico Hall and then line up in front of, along the side of, or across the street from Angelico Hall. Students will line up according to the SCHOOL in which they are enrolled. There are four schools: The School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, The School of Business and Leadership, the School of Education and Counseling Psychology, and the School of Health and Natural Sciences. Students do not have to march in alphabetical order, but they do have to march with students in their school. The procession to Forest Meadows will start around 9:30 a.m. You will hand the card you receive to the dean of your school who will read your name at Commencement. If you have a name that you suspect the dean may have trouble pronouncing, please speak during the previous week to the dean and tell him/her how to pronounce it. Please print it phonetically on the card before you hand the card to the dean.

Must I attend every graduation activity?

No. Attendance is not required at any event. You choose the events you wish to attend.

What is the graduation fee?

The graduation fee, which has not changed since the 1990s, is seventy-five dollars ($75). The charge for Commencement will appear on your student account statement later this semester or early in the spring term. All balances must be paid no later than May 6, 2011, or you will not be allowed to participate in Commencement. There also is a fifty dollar ($50) late fee charged to students who apply for graduation after the November 2010 deadline.

Making Accommodations

There are many events in the area occurring on Commencement weekend, so book rooms for your guests now. No, it is not too early to do so. Family and friends will not be happy (and that’s an understatement) if they cannot sleep in the area the night before your graduation. Several local hotels in the past have given discounts to guests of graduating Dominican students on Commencement weekend. Be sure to ask about a discount when you book a room. Hotels that sometimes offer discounts include the Best Western Corte Madera, the Acqua Hotel in Mill Valley, Four Points by Sheraton in Terra Linda, and Embassy Suites in San Rafael. But ask any hotel you call if they will give a discount to families of Dominican graduates. 

Where/when do I purchase my gown, hood and mortarboard?

The Bookstore will sell academic regalia (gown, hood, and mortarboard). The regalia package will be available for purchase in the Bookstore on Thursday, March 17, between 10AM and 5PM and on Saturday, March 19, between 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.. Beginning Monday, March 21, academic regalia may be purchased during the bookstore’s regular hours. The cost for regalia is expected to be close to seventy dollars. Items in the regalia package are not sold separately. The University does not maintain any gowns or hoods for students to borrow for use at Commencement.

What's a hood?

A hood is the garment that goes over your shoulders. It is black and has a colorful trim. The color of the trim signifies the degree (not necessarily the major) you are receiving. The colorful hood originated in twelfth century Europe. At that time a hood and cape were the daily dress for students, most of whom were preparing to be clergy. As colleges and universities added programs of study, each degree was designated by a distinct color. That tradition continues.

What color hood should I buy?

The following information should be used by students in purchasing a hood of the appropriate color.

School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

  • White trim on the hood
  • Exception: Fine Arts (including Dance): Brown color trim on the hood

School of Health and Natural Sciences:


  • Nursing: Apricot color trim on the hood
  • Science, Occupational Therapy: Gold color trim on the hood

School of Business and Leadership: Drab color trim on the hood

  • Drab color trim on the hood

School of Education and Counseling Psychology  


  • Education degrees: Light blue trim on the hood

You will be hooded during the Commencement Ceremony

During the Commencement ceremony, just before you receive your diploma cover from the President of Dominican University, you will be hooded by the Vice President or Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. You will be carrying your hood when you walk forward when your name is called. You will hand the hood to either of those people and he/she will place it over your head. Some of you may have to remove your mortarboard to be hooded.

Where should we mail your diploma?

Official diplomas will be mailed by late September. Make sure that the Office of the Registrar has the correct address to where you want your diploma mailed.

Is there a rehearsal for Commencement?

Yes. It’s at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 12. Pick up a card from your school’s table, located outside Angelico Hall. The Alumni Relations Office will provide pastries and beverages at 8:00 a.m. outside Angelico Hall.

Commencement Mass

The Commencement Mass will be held on Friday, May 13, at 3:00 p.m. in St. Raphael’s Church in downtown San Rafael. All families and friends, Catholic and non-Catholic, graduate and undergraduate students, are invited to and encouraged to attend the Mass. The Mass usually lasts about one hour. Do not wear your academic regalia to Mass. There are no special seating arrangements. Students usually sit with their families during the service.

Commencement Video

Students will be able to purchase a video of the entire Commencement program. Information will be sent to each student’s email account in early May. Order forms will be available on Commencement morning at Forest Meadows.

Will parking be difficult on Commencement Day?

Yes. Available spaces will fill up early. Parking on the central core of campus around the classroom buildings will be restricted to trustees and honored guests. Encourage your guests to carpool. Students should park their cars near Caleruega, the Library, and Edgehill Village. Students should not park at Conlan. Do not park on Palm or Olive Avenues. Cars parked there will be towed. Please tell your guests not to park there. The towing cost and the cost to recover your vehicle is, at the time of this letter, $360. The limited handicapped spaces at Conlan Recreation Center will be reserved for cars with special blue handicapped placards. The San Rafael Police Department will strictly enforce illegally parked vehicles. Please walk from the Conlan Center lot to the Amphitheater to determine if your guests will be able to navigate that distance. You may find it necessary to rent a wheelchair. Be sure to print out a campus map.

Medical Emergencies

There have been medical emergencies at each of the last few Commencements. The nurse practitioner from the Campus Health Center or paramedics responded to each of them. We will have the paramedics and the Health Center staff available again this year. They will be at a first aid station located at the entrance to the amphitheater, just behind the large set of bleachers.  Guests who lack the stamina to sit through a ceremony that might last for two hours in potentially very warm conditions and direct sunlight should be advised to consider their health status before committing to attend graduation.

Ordering Graduation Announcements

Herff-Jones, the company that sells graduation announcements, class rings, and graduation memorabilia, will correspond directly with all students about ordering graduation announcements. Dominican has nothing to do with announcements and does not provide announcements. Before mid-March that company will mail an order form for announcements to you. You decide if you want to order announcements through Herff-Jones, or if you want to print your own, or if you want to use the services of a commercial printer. Students will be able to order/purchase announcements on Thursday, March 17 (10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.) and Saturday, March 19 (10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.) in the Dominican bookstore. Use this link to obtain more information about ordering rings and announcements from the Herff-Jones Company.

Senior Recognitions

In essence, you will have the opportunity to nominate yourself or someone to be Senior Speaker at the graduation ceremony. Other special recognitions include the Outstanding Student Award and the Veritas Cup Award, which goes to someone who has been a friend to the class.

Honors Recognition Program

Students who will graduate with the academic distinctions cum laude (G.P.A. 3.5), magna cum laude (G.P.A. 3.75) and summa cum laude (G.P.A. 3.85) will be awarded medals. Medals will be distributed at the Honors recognition program on Wednesday, May 4, from 4:00–6:00 p.m. at Angelico Hall. A reception will follow at the Conlan Recreation Center from 6:00–8:00 p.m. Medals will be available at the Registrar’s Office after that date. Medals are usually worn with the academic regalia at Commencement. Please see the Commencement Honors Ceremony information.

Need a signer at Commencement?

Because of high demand around graduation time, the agency that sends signers to us has requested that we ask if a signer will be needed. That agency does not want to send a signer to a place where a signer is not needed. That may keep another institution from obtaining a signer’s services. Please let me know by April 29 if you know that a signer will be needed. Please email me at [email protected].

That’s the information you need to know right now about Commencement. Remember to check your Dominican email account and the Dominican website for future updates and other information. Please understand that I send out information about graduation, but I have nothing to do with who graduates or who receives academic recognitions! Again, congratulations if you are graduating.


John Kennedy 

Vice President for Student Life