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 developed a plan for this year that is a hybrid of a virtual and in-person celebration of our graduates.

Virtual Commencement Ceremony & Viewing Parties

Friday, May 7, 2021 | Starts 5:00 pm ET

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 premiere at 5:00 pm ET, you will be able to view the video 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! You can print out and follow along in the Commencement Program. We cannot wait to see your pictures on the Warren Wilson College Parent Facebook so that we can celebrate with you!

View the Virtual Ceremony Premiere on YouTube – Starts at 5:00PM EDT on Friday, May 7
Share link with friends & family:

In-Person Conferring of Degrees

Saturday, May 8, 2021 | Assigned Entry at 9:00 am, 11:00 am, & 1:00 pm ET

(For Livestream information, see below)

The in-person Conferring of Degrees for the graduate and up to two guests on Saturday, May 8 will be held outdoors, rain or shine, distanced and masked, in three sessions organized by academic division:

  • 9:00 AM – Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • 11:00 AM – Social Sciences
  • 1:00 PM – Fine Arts and Humanities

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. Please confirm with your student their Conferring of Degree assigned time to know when to prepare for your arrival. 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.

Parking at Kittredge Theatre

  • Please allow adequate time to arrive, park, and find your way to Sunderland Lawn at your assigned entry time on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Parking will be available in Kittredge Parking Lot.
  • Please enter campus off Warren Wilson College Rd at the North Entrance—this is the third entrance at the top of the hill if you are coming in from I-40 via U.S. 70. From there you will be directed to available parking, including disabled parking. If you have a disabled parking tag, please display it.
  • A parking attendant will be there to welcome you, provide you a guest ticket, and direct you where to go upon your arrival.


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.

Commencement Programs

Download and print commencement programs for the May 7 virtual Commencement ceremony on the Warren Wilson College Commencement webpage. The College will provide a hard copy Commencement program at the in-person ceremony on May 8.

We look forward to making this memorable experience for you and your family.

Conferring of Degrees Livestream

Saturday, May 8, 2021 | 9:00 am, 11:00 am, & 1:00 pm

The in-person ceremony can be watched as a Livestream starting at 9:00 am EDT on Saturday, May 8.  Join the stream to see your graduate, with degrees being conferred by academic division:

  • 9:00 AM – Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • 11:00 AM – Social Sciences
  • 1:00 PM – Fine Arts and Humanities

You can share this direct link with friends and family:

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.”