Arriving at the Arena

Doors to the arena will open one hour prior to the start of the ceremony. Graduates should arrive no later than 15 minutes after the doors open. Times and days of upcoming commencement ceremonies can be found on the Ceremonies and Events page. 

You should arrive for your ceremony with cap and gown in hand – or plan to pick up previously ordered apparel at the Book Store apparel table located in Section A (west side) of the upper concourse. 

No outside food or beverages except unopened water bottles will be allowed in the arena.  Please do not bring any wrapped packages or any items that cannot be searched by security personnel.  

Name Card Hand-Out

Graduating students should report to the Name Card Hand-Out Table designated for your last name and college.  These tables are positioned on the upper concourse.  Tell the staff member your first and last names.  The Name Card you completed when purchasing apparel at the University Book Store will be returned to you.   Hold onto it!   You will hand it to a reader who will read your name from it when you cross the stage.

Personal Items

If you arrive with a coat or purse make arrangements to leave these items with a family member or friend.  You should not have anything in your hand other than your photo name card when the processional begins and throughout the ceremony.  Cell phones should be silenced or turned off.


Liberal Arts and Sciences and University College students will be seated together on the arena floor. 


Maps of the seating assignments are posted at each card hand-out station and at the Processional aisles.

Your marshal will escort your group to a designated seating area. You should sit down as soon as you reach your chair.  A diploma cover and a program booklet listing the graduates will be on your chair.

Presentation of Graduates 

For the Presentation of Graduates, the candidates will be invited to come to the stage to be recognized individually.  Your marshal will lead your group to the stage.  Take your name card with you, hand it to the person reading names at the microphone and walk briskly to center stage to shake hands with the University of Iowa official.  You will return to the opposite end of your original row of seats, cross to your original seat and be seated.

Following the closing remarks and processional of platform party, candidates will begin to recess in an orderly fashion under the marshals’ direction. 

Expectation of Graduates

Commencement is the culminating event of University study for students who choose to attend.   An appropriate and dignified academic atmosphere is absolutely expected so that you, your family, and other guests may enjoy this important gathering. 

The following rules of behavior will be enforced at all ceremonies:

  • No alcoholic beverages of any kind
  • Inappropriate dress and costumes worn under gowns will not be allowed
  • Cell phones must be turned off or silenced in the graduate seating area
  • No flowers, purses, gifts, balloons, or bags will be allowed in the student seating area
  • Marshals and security staff will be looking for intoxicated persons.  Inebriated students are not permitted to participate

With everyone’s cooperation, this occasion will become a proud and happy memory of your academic achievement at the University of Iowa.