Commencement 2021

Commencement 2021

Class of 2021
Motto:  Honor ante honores
 (Honor before reward)
Colors:  Peacock blue and green
Emblem: Peacock

Congratulations on your graduation!

It’s quite an accomplishment and we look forward to celebrating with you and your family and friends. On this page, you’ll find all of the information you need to plan for this exciting event. If you don’t find what you’re looking for now, come back as we will be regularly updating this page.

If you have questions, please reach out to Dawn Gatewood in the Office of the President. You can reach her at or 434-381-6202.

Awards Ceremony for Class of 2021

Commencement Livestream

Commencement Speaker

Sweet Briar’s Commencement speaker will be Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugha noted expert on agriculture and sustainability, who has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Dr. Bronaugh is the first African American to hold this position. She’s a pathbreaker and a leader who previously served as the Commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Commencement Schedule

Sweet Briar’s 2021 Commencement will take place in person on campus. In order to be sure we are in compliance with Governor Northam’s COVID-19 guidelines, each graduate will be able to bring no more than three guests.

Wednesday, May 5 

  • 2 p.m. Baccalaureate Service – Upper Quad
    (Seniors only)
  • 4:30 p.m. Champagne Toast and Photo with the President
    Sweet Briar House Garden (Seniors only)

Thursday, May 6

  • 11 a.m. Fancy Hat Brunch, Hubbard House (Seniors only)

Friday, May 7

  • 10:30 a.m. Commencement Rehearsal, Upper Quad
    (Seniors, December graduates and graduate students)

Saturday, May 8 

  • 10-10:30 a.m. Phi Beta Kappa Initiation, *Reahard Gallery, Cochran Library
    *This is a location change
    (Honorees plus three family members)
  • 10:45-11:30 a.m. Awards Ceremony for Class of 2021, Upper Quad 
    (Graduates plus three family members)
  • 11:30-1 p.m. Boxed lunches available by preregistration 
    (Outdoor seating in various locations)
  • 2-3:30 p.m. Commencement, Upper Quad
    (Graduates plus three family members)
  • 4 p.m. Education Program Champagne Toast
    Wailes Lounge (By invitation only)

NOTICE: The Awards Ceremony and Commencement Ceremony will be live streamed so family and friends who are not able to join in person can still celebrate with us. That link will be made available at

Commencement FAQs

Accommodations for Commencement

The Florence Elston Inn is available only by lottery. Because guest rooms at the Florence Elston Inn are limited, it is a tradition here at the College to hold a lottery to give families an equal chance at reserving an on-campus room for Commencement. The lottery is the only way to book a room at the Florence Elston Inn for that weekend.

However, there are a number of other places to stay in the area.

Information from the Office of the Registrar

All students, undergraduate and graduate, must submit their graduation application to the Registrar’s Office by mid-October. Any academic changes (i.e. adding or dropping a minor) must also be finalized at this time. If a student intends to graduate in September or December, she should communicate her intentions no later than the preceding semester.

Financial Obligations of Seniors

Graduating students must settle all of their financial obligations with the Business Office before they may receive their diploma. If you need assistance with your account, please call 434-381-6335 and email

End of Year Residence Hall Move-Out Procedures

Graduating Seniors must be completely moved out no later than 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 8.** There will be absolutely no exceptions to this deadline. Students will be billed $100 per hour for overstaying. All students should return their residence hall room keys in the provided envelope to the key dropbox in the Office of Student Life.

**Subject to change due to move-out needs and COVID-19.

Students may choose from two options for check out: express checkout or standard checkout.  

  • Express Checkout allows you to depart campus at any time, without scheduling an appointment to meet with your RA.   You will be held financially responsible for any missing items, damages, or exceptional cleaning, and may not appeal these charges.  
  • Standard Checkout requires you to schedule an appointment to have your room reviewed by your RA before leaving.  If you have concerns about potential damage charges, you should consider choosing the Standard Checkout option. 
Required Cleaning (Express and Standard Checkout)

Your room should be left in the same condition you found it. All students are required to:

  • Return furniture to its original position (no furniture in closets, all beds assembled, everything in correct room)
  • Sweep the floor and/or vacuum carpets
  • Dust off all surfaces, cabinets, and drawers
  • Remove all adhesive, putty, tape, etc from walls and furniture
  • Unplug, defrost, and clean the refrigerator/microwave (J Melvin Corp will come to collect later if you rented)
  • Clean kitchen (counters, cabinets,  and appliances) and bathrooms (toilets, tub, and sink) [Suites and Green Village only]
  • Dispose of all trash in hallway bins
  • Close and lock windows, pull shades/blinds down, lock door
Senior Robes/Club Materials

Graduating Seniors who are still in possession of any decorated senior robes or club materials that need to be passed on to new officers should bring these items to student life before leaving campus. Please leave them in the lobby with a note clearly stating your name, the items you are leaving, and who the items should go to.

Commencement Photography
What is the difference between graduation and commencement?

The term “graduation” refers to the completion of all degree requirements as recorded on the official transcript. Students will be marked as “graduated” once the Office of the Registrar has officially confirmed that all degree requirements have been met. Graduation (degree completion) may be confirmed before or after participation in the commencement ceremony.

Commencement” is the ceremony that celebrates the culmination of the Sweet Briar experience and most often occurs near the completion of the degree. However, participation in the commencement ceremony, including the publication of the names of candidates in the commencement program, does not imply that a student has graduated.


Graduation Collection

This collection provides all the products that our graduates will need for graduation, including regalia and announcements.