Commencement Q & A

Question: When is Commencement taking place?

Answer: Spring 2011  - Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14, 2011
Fall 2011  - Friday, December 16 and Saturday, December 17, 2011
Spring 2012 - Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12, 2012

Question: Why does the University of Houston want to change from college-based commencements to a university-wide commencement?

Answer:There are several key reasons for this change, including:

  • The committee constituted to look into national best practices confirmed that our national and state peers have university-wide commencement ceremonies.
  • The degree-granting authority rests with the State of Texas and is delegated to the university president, not a college dean.
  • Since it takes an entire university to graduate a student, it is the duty of the entire university to honor the graduates and properly salute their accomplishments.

Question: What is the history of commencement at the University of Houston?

Answer: For years, the University of Houston held a university-wide commencement. As the university grew in size, it became more convenient to hold college-based ceremonies. Our research reflects that universities even larger than UH continue to hold university-wide ceremonies and give a university-wide salute to their graduates. By combining several colleges at separate editions of the university-wide commencement, we can present a full ceremony at each one while still preserving the flavor of a grand, campus-wide event.

Question: Who is planning the university-wide commencement?

Answer: A committee chaired by the provost and consisting of representatives from faculty, staff, students, deans and central administration has been planning the ceremony for the past several months. They reviewed many different university ceremonies and watched videos of several highly respected universities’ commencements before proposing the plan for the UH commencement.

Question: What options did the committee consider?

Answer: The committee reviewed all options related to location, intimacy, speaker, recognition format, faculty’s role, student traditions, guest participation, safety and university spirit.

Question: What principles guided the design of the commencement?


  • It is time to honor our graduates; therefore, the emphasis must be on students!
  • Every student must walk the stage and have his or her name called out so families and guests can celebrate and cheer.
  • Ideally, the ceremony would include a uniquely UH student tradition. The president’s office has asked the Student Government Association to hold a competition and will reward the winning idea for a student tradition with a $500 cash prize.
  • The ceremony should recognize the role of the faculty by allowing the procession to be led by the president of the Faculty Senate.
  • Graduation gowns are only allowed to be worn at authorized university-wide commencements.

Question: Are students limited in the number of guests they can bring?

Answer:No. Graduation is a time of celebration for our students, so we will not restrict the number of guests.

Question: What role will the colleges play?

Answer:All deans whose graduates are being honored will present their students to the president for the conferral of their degrees, and congratulate them as new graduates.

In addition, many colleges are interested in holding their own reception/events to provide a more intimate environment for the graduates of their college before or after the ceremony.

Question: Will all doctoral graduates be hooded on the stage?

Answer: Yes.

Question: How long will the ceremony last?

Answer:Each ceremony should last about two hours.

Question: Why are we holding the graduation ceremony on campus?

Answer:Holding the ceremony on campus allows graduates and their families to tour the campus and take photographs of their favorite places before and/or after the ceremony.

If you have additional questions about commencement, please contact Provost John Antel at