Graduation Ceremony

Warren Wilson College is excited to share details for Commencement this spring for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. With the limitations imposed by the ongoing pandemic and our commitment to maintaining a low-risk environment for transmission of the virus on campus, we have been working to develop a plan for this year that will be a hybrid of both a remote and an in-person celebration of our graduates.


Friday, May 7, 2021 | 5:00 pm ET
Virtual Commencement Ceremony and Viewing Parties

Traditionally, Warren Wilson College has hosted Honors and Awards Ceremony for graduating seniors and their families on the Friday before Commencement. In keeping with tradition and because our in-person Conferring of Degrees is limited to two guests per graduate, Warren Wilson will host a special virtual Commencement ceremony for all guests of the graduate on Friday, May 7, 2021 featuring Commencement speaker, Andrew Revkin, an American science and environmental journalist, author and educator. The program will include welcomes and introductions from campus officials, the recognition of our top senior and faculty and staff honors and awards, and our student speaker. While this virtual ceremony will stream live at 5:00 pm ET, you will be able to view the virtual ceremony at any time starting on May 7 until the end of summer.

The virtual Commencement is a great opportunity for family and friends of the graduate to host viewing parties and participate in celebrating this momentous occasion together. We’ve compiled easy to use printable yard signs and food toppers, along with an all-time favorite chocolate vegan cake recipe courtesy of Cowpie Cafe, to help you start planning. We hope family and friends from all over can join with the graduate in celebration! We cannot wait to see your pictures on the Warren Wilson College Parent Facebook so that we can celebrate with you!

Saturday, May 8, 2021 | Assigned Entry at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, & 1:00 pm ET
In-Person Conferring of Degrees (Rain or Shine)

It is with much anticipation and enthusiasm that we celebrate the milestone of graduating from Warren Wilson College with an in-person Conferring of Degrees. To keep you and your party safe, the College will host a socially distanced ceremony on Saturday, May 8. This will not be a seated event for graduates or their two ticketed guests. Graduates will process across Sunderland Lawn with their guests beside them, then, with their guests viewing from the lawn, the graduate will cross our stage, be presented with their diploma cover by the College President, and receive the traditional tree sapling.

Up to two guests will be allowed to accompany the graduate in the procession. To ensure the ceremony is conducted efficiently and that community practices in relation to COVID-19 are followed, Warren Wilson will assign entry times at 9:00AM, 11:00AM, and 1:00PM ET to allow for smaller groups of graduates with their guests to have their degrees conferred. We ask that graduates please remain with their two guests for the entirety of Commencement while wearing masks and keeping six feet distance. We recognize that many family and friends have supported your graduate, and we appreciate your sacrifice in choosing your guests.

Ticketed Guests and Livestream

Guests of the graduate will receive a printed ticket upon their arrival to campus and be required to show it to enter the Conferring of Degrees ceremony at their assigned time. For everyone’s safety, guests without tickets will not be allowed to enter the location. We request your cooperation with making off campus plans for additional guests that day who are not able to be a part of the in-person Conferring of Degrees. We hope they will join us for the livestream ceremony on May 8.

Commencement Keepsake

We know how important this day is and we want to capture every moment for you. The virtual Commencement on May 7 and the Livestream Conferring of Degrees on May 8 will be available as a complimentary keepsake to all families of the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021.

A photographer will be available in the Formal Garden to take professional photos of your graduate and/or family following the procession. Photography by guests of the graduate will be permitted throughout the in-person Conferring of Degrees ceremony. You’ll be right at the front of the stage to document this event.

More Information is Coming Soon

More information, including the location of the socially distanced ceremony and how to attend the virtual Commencement ceremony, will be available in the weeks ahead. This Commencement page will also be updated to include parking information and day of arrival details.

We cannot wait to provide a wonderful experience for you and your graduate!

Invitations & Diploma Frames

Warren Wilson College is proud to partner with Herff Jones on commencement invitations and diploma frames. This service is provided by Herff Jones; all communications may be directed to our campus representative: Deborah S. Forrest, LLC (704) 962-1483,

General Information

For any other information about commencement, please contact Academic Affairs at

Commencement Eastern Hemlock Sapling

Commencement Traditions - Hemlock Seedling

The Eastern Hemlock sapling received with each degree represents a new beginning. Just as each graduate leaves the College to go, lay down roots, and grow, the graduate is encouraged to plant this tree away from campus to represent their mark as a Warren Wilson graduate in the greater world.

Doug Orr at 2006 Commencement

Commencement Traditions - College Tartan

Warren Wilson’s tartan was designed by Sharon Fullerton Grist ’77 to honor the College’s centennial. Blue and gold are the school’s colors. The three bands of maroon represent academics, work, and community engagement; their color signifying the College’s Presbyterian heritage. Gray represents the rock upon which the campus was built and green reflects the landscape. The College’s tartan is registered officially with the Scottish Registry of Tartans.

Dean Paula Garret and President Sandy Pfeiffer at 2011 Commencement

Commencement Traditions - College Mace

The mace represents the authority of the college President and is carried at the head of academic processions by the Chief Marshall, typically the Dean of the College. The Warren Wilson mace was commissioned in 1978 by college President Reuben Holden and created by Swannanoa artist Dirck Cruser. Carved of walnut, the mace bears the symbols of the College: the mountains, the valley, the river, the owl, and the spade. The distinctive curves and carving also form two W’s for “Warren Wilson.”