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Birmingham-Southern College is excited to welcome the Class of 2020 for Commencement and Capping exercises on August 7 and 8, 2020.

Below are important details about the upcoming events on campus. We look forward to celebrating our graduates! 
There will be four separate ceremonies, combining both Commencement and Capping, beginning at the following times and following the outlined process. Each event is expected to last approximately one hour, depending on the number of graduates participating: 

Friday, August 7, 1 p.m. 

Friday, August 7, 4 p.m. 

Saturday, August 8, 9 a.m. 

Saturday, August 8, Noon 

Battle Coliseum will open approximately 45 minutes prior to each ceremony for seating, with the lineup process beginning around the same time. The ceremony will begin promptly with the processional, followed by a welcome, brief speeches by invited individuals, capping, and recognition of graduates. Following the ceremony, graduates will have approximately 45 minutes to ring the bell on top of the Berte Humanities Center, if they wish, and take photos around the Hilltop before departing. 

At 9 a.m. CDT Wednesday, July 8, we will send the RSVP link for Commencement to your BSC email address. We are announcing this time to provide an equitable opportunity for all graduates and their families to sign up for a ceremony time that best fits their needs, as well as any peer groups you would like to try to be with.

Please note that we will not be able to accommodate special requests to attend particular ceremonies, nor make exceptions to allow more individuals to attend than the graduate and guest maximums that have been determined. We trust that the proximity of the ceremonies will enable graduates to see others with whom they want to connect while in the Birmingham area.  

Each ceremony will host up to 50 graduates, and three guests per graduate. These numbers allow us to stay within the approved guidelines from the Jefferson County Health Department, when combined with the limited staffing for the event and College officials involved in Commencement and Capping. In addition, no graduates or guests who have any symptoms of illness will be permitted to participate or attend the ceremony.  

Each graduate may choose one of their three guests to cap the graduate. For those unfamiliar with BSC’s capping tradition, graduates are invited to have someone who has helped them achieve this significant milestone participate in our Capping Ceremony in which they will place the graduate’s mortar board on the graduate’s head. While typically Capping is held late in the afternoon prior to Commencement the following morning, this year we will host Capping concurrently with Commencement. Graduates who do not have someone cap them may have three guests who will sit in the main seating area of Battle Coliseum, above the graduates.  

Graduates will not be able to invite BSC faculty or staff members to serve as cappers. To prevent prolonged interactions with individuals who have not been within each other’s circle of recent, close contacts, we needed to restrict this opportunity this year. If a graduate would like to ask a faculty or staff member to participate in a personal, informal capping opportunity outside the Coliseum in the 45 minutes following the ceremony, you are welcome to enjoy that moment with them if they’re willing to do so.  

Graduates, cappers, and guests of graduates who will be seated in the Coliseum seating will proceed through a checkpoint located outside of Battle Coliseum where they will receive a temperature check and confirm lack of symptoms for COVID-19. We ask that all participants queue to the checkpoint in a socially distanced manner, following the guidance of staff members who will be at the checkpoint. Once cleared, graduates and cappers will proceed to the lineup location. (Location information for lining up will be sent in subsequent messages.) Guests will proceed at spaced intervals into the Coliseum and find seating in designated, socially-distanced sets of three seats. All seating is General Admission.  

Graduates, and anyone who is capping them, will line up alphabetically in the half-hour preceding their ceremony. Different from past years, all graduates will be alphabetized without regard for the type of Bachelor’s degree they have earned. Graduates will process in with their cappers to begin the ceremony, sit next to them during it, and come to a designated location in front of the stage with their capper to have them place the graduate’s mortar board on their head. The graduate will then proceed to the stage to receive their diploma, while the capper returns to their seat. Once the graduate has crossed the stage, they will return to their seat.  

At the conclusion of the ceremony, graduates and cappers will be directed to recess from the Coliseum to the areas around the Norton Plaza, Academic Quad, and other locations in the general area. Guests in the Coliseum will be dismissed by ushers coming to each section and row to ensure socially distanced intervals occur. Guests can then find their graduates in the locations indicated above.  

In addition, graduates will need to ensure they bring their caps and gowns with them to campus; additional items will not be available for temporary use. They will not need to bring their diplomas with them into the Commencement ceremony, however. Graduates will receive generic diploma holders during the ceremony when they cross the stage, which they will need to return as they recess from the Coliseum. 

In the approximate 45 minutes that follow each ceremony, graduates and any guests who wish to ring the bell can then proceed to Humanities. Staff there will guide you to the roof and ensure staggered use of the narrow stairwell in Humanities. We will not be able to permit sustained group contact to ring the bell.  
Graduates and their guests are welcome to take pictures across the Norton and Academic Quad area, as well as other outdoor locations across the Hilltop. We again ask that you not congregate in large groups for pictures with each other while on campus. Graduates and guests must then depart campus by the 45-minute deadline to prevent overlap with the graduates and guests attending the subsequent ceremony.  

In addition to the checkpoint for clearance to participate in and attend the ceremony, the College will complete the following: 

Prior to each ceremony, thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all interior spaces will occur where participants will be present.  

Masks must be worn by all participants and attendees. Graduates and cappers must wear them when in line and in the ceremony. They may remove them when in the area of the stage for their Capping and Commencement recognition. Guests will be expected to maintain masking throughout their time in the Coliseum. When outside for pictures in family units, masks may be removed.  

Hand sanitizer stations will be present at primary points for use by guests as desired.  

While these plans differ from BSC's traditional Commencement, Capping, and other senior recognition moments, we hope these events will provide a meaningful time of celebration with your family and many of your peers. We look forward to welcoming you back to campus in early August! 

Questions? Email [email protected].