Humboldt State University

Commencement 2017 Saturday, May 13 | Redwood Bowl

Ceremony FAQs

    • When is Commencement?

      Saturday, May 13, 2017, Redwood Bowl

      • 8:30 a.m. - College of Professional Studies
      • Noon - College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
      • 3:00 p.m. - College of Natural Resources & Sciences
    • What if it rains?

      Commencement ceremonies will be held rain or shine in Redwood Bowl. Given the size of our graduating class and the number of guests, there is no indoor alternative. However, we will be live-streaming the Commencement ceremonies and there will be a link on the HSU homepage starting Thursday, May 11. Limited seating is available for guests to view the live stream indoors in Room 166 of the Behavioral & Social Sciences Building and in Van Duzer Theatre.

      Monitor the forecast and be prepared—with umbrellas, ponchos, sunscreen or whatever weather protection may be necessary.

      A current weather forecast is available from the National Weather Service. The average mid-May temperatures for our area over the past 30 years are a high of 58 and a low of 48. Rain is rare—the average is less than one-twentieth of an inch for graduation day. Over the past 20 years, rain has only dampened two.

    • Who will speak at Commencement?

    • President Lisa A. Rossbacher will do the Welcome and Commencement Address.

    • How long is the ceremony?

      Ceremonies last between 2 and 2.5 hours.

    • I have guests that can't come to the ceremony. Is there any way to see it online?

      We will be live-streaming the Commencement ceremonies and there will be a link on the HSU homepage starting Thursday, May 11. If your guests can't watch the ceremony live, an archive of it will be available to view as soon as the ceremony is finished and the video will be available to download for free on the Commencement homepage by Wednesday, May 17. In addition, limited seating is available for guests on campus to view the live stream in Room 166 of the Behavioral & Social Sciences Building and in Van Duzer Theatre.

    • How early should my guests and I plan to arrive?

      Students line up 45 minutes prior to the start of each ceremony, and the processional begins on time. Guest seating in Redwood Bowl is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so your guests should plan to arrive early.

      For the convenience of guests arriving early, food and beverages (coffee, tea, soft drinks) will be on sale at the concession stand in the stadium. Bring a reusable water bottle or coffee cup to help reduce waste during the event.

    • How soon after the ceremony can we make dinner reservations?

      Allow enough time after the end of the Commencement ceremony to get to restaurants and other activities off campus. Ceremonies last between 2 and 2.5 hours, so it's strongly recommended that you make restaurant reservations a minimum of 3.5 hours after the start of the ceremony.

    • One of my family members is elderly, has a disability and/or mobility limitations. What access services are available?

      Disabled parking is available, for those with proper plates or placards, in lot FS9 north of the Student Business Services building and near the corner of Harpst and Rossow streets, and in lot G15 near 14th and Union streets. Shuttle buses for those with limited mobility will run continuously from those lots—look for the shuttle pick-up areas under the tents.

      Distance and terrain from designated parking lots to the commencement site in Redwood Bowl may be significant for some individuals. There are some steep inclines and numerous stairs in certain areas, see the map for suggested pedestrian routes and the one-way road for Passenger Drop-off location.

      Once at Redwood Bowl, guests who have difficulty walking can request a wheelchair escort. This service is provided free of charge. There are wheelchair/accessible seating areas on both the west and east sides of Redwood Bowl on the field. There is room for one guest to accompany the person in the wheelchair or who has a mobility limitation in this seating area.

      American Sign Language Interpreters will provide signing for each ceremony.

      Appropriate auxiliary aides are available when possible. Requests must be made in advance to the Student Disability Resource Center at (707) 826-4678 as early as possible, preferably no later than April 25.

    • What about parking?

      Parking is available in most campus lots, and parking permits are not required on the day of the ceremony. All meters are free to use except those on Rossow, Harpst and B streets. Disabled parking is located in lot FS9 at Harpst and Rossow streets as well as in lot G15 at Union and 14th street. Shuttle buses for those with mobility limitations will run continuously from those lots—look for the shuttle pick-up areas under the tents. Note that only shuttles and other authorized vehicles are allowed on Union Street north of 17th Street.

      To reach the passenger drop off area, turn left from Union Street onto 17th. For all other drop-offs, go to the designated lots where shuttles are available.

      Shuttles pick up passengers at designated locations approximately every 10 minutes. Those leaving from the disabled parking lots are designed to accommodate wheelchairs. Distance and terrain from designated parking lots to the commencement site in Redwood Bowl may be significant for some individuals. There are some steep inclines and numerous stairs in certain areas, see the map for suggested pedestrian routes.

    • Where are the receptions?

      View a complete list of special receptions »

    • What about photographs?

      Guests are welcome to take photographs from their seats, but should not stand in the aisles nor block the view of other guests. Be respectful! The wheelchair seating areas on the field are NOT accessible to guests waiting to photograph their student. Only official photographers will be permitted on the platform or within the fenced areas on the field.

      At least two different pictures of each graduate will be taken by a commercial photographer from GradImages®—an individual portrait and a photo shaking hands with President Lisa A. Rossbacher. The proofs of these pictures will be sent to the graduate. There is no obligation to order these pictures. You can contact GradImages® by calling 800.261.2576.

    • What about flowers?

      A flower booth will be located at the south end of Redwood Bowl, and will be selling leis, rose bouquets, spring bouquets and stuffed animals.

    • What else should I know about the ceremony?

      Greening up graduation: In an effort to reduce waste at the Commencement ceremonies Take Back the Tap will continue to reduce the number of single-use bottles, while also minimizing the number of compostable water and coffee cups. Look for drinking fountains at the south end of Redwood Bowl and water stations throughout the Bowl to refill your reusable water bottles. Vendors will be selling discounted water canteens and souvenir coffee cups, complete with unlimited refills.

      Recycle Graduation Gowns: Please check in your rented gown at one of the Bookstore sites located in Redwood Bowl on the day of Commencement, or at the Bookstore within a week of graduation. You may keep the cap and tassel. If you borrowed a cap and gown from CCAT, there will be a collection station near the tunnel entrance at the southwest corner of the Bowl.

      Pledge Alliance: Green ribbons may be worn by graduates to symbolize their support of the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility, a Commencement tradition that started at HSU in 1987. The pledge has been adopted by hundreds of universities worldwide, and reads:

      "I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects for any organizations for which I work."

      The day of Commencement, there will be a booth and a table with information about the graduation pledge in the West Gym. Students may sign the pledge at that time. For more information, visit

      First aid: Our Center for First Aid, Lost & Found and Emergencies is located at the south end of the stadium.

      Baby strollers: Guest seating in the stadium is in the bleachers with steep steps, and the use of baby strollers is not recommended. However, there is a seating area on the south end of Redwood Bowl where strollers can be used.

      No dogs—or animals of any kind—are allowed in Redwood Bowl or Redwood Plaza on Commencement day. The only exception is registered service dogs. Security will be on hand to ensure compliance throughout the day.

      Please note: Alcoholic beverages, balloons, coolers/ice chests, beach balls, noisemakers, silly string and fireworks are not allowed in Redwood Bowl. Smoking is not permitted in or around Redwood Bowl. Smoking is allowed only in designated areas on campus.

    • How do I get a Commencement program?

      The Commencement program, with the names of graduates and program details, will be distributed to graduates and handed out to guests as they enter Redwood Bowl. Programs will be limited to 2 per family. Contact to obtain one after the ceremonies. 

      Your name will be listed in the program if you have filed an Application for Graduation by January 30, 2017 unless you have requested confidential status with the Registrar’s Office (please see “How do I know if my name will be in the program?” for more details).

      Please note: The presence of your name in the program does not, in itself, testify to completion of your degree.

    • Where can I get more information?

      This website will be updated frequently, especially as we get closer to the day of the event. If you cannot find the information you need or you need clarification, please email