Wittenberg University will conduct its 173rd Commencement exercises to celebrate the Class of 2023 on Saturday, May 13. Approximately 270 degree candidates are expected to cross the stage in picturesque Commencement Hollow.
Prior to Commencement, the Class of 2023 will hold its Baccalaureate service on Friday, May 12, in historic Weaver Chapel. Pre-service music will begin at 4 p.m., with the ceremony starting at 4:15 p.m.
The Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2023 will begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. All guests must be seated by 11 a.m. Access to Commencement Hollow will be restricted until 9:30 a.m. Commencement Hollow will be set up with approximately 3,000 chairs. In addition, visitors are welcome to bring their own chairs or blankets.
The rain location for the ceremony will be inside the Pam Evans Smith Arena, part of the Health, Wellness & Athletics (HWA) Complex. Tickets are required and have already been distributed to the graduates. Others wishing to view the ceremony can watch online here.
Addressing the graduates at the ceremony will be Wittenberg President Michael L. Frandsen, keynote speaker Albert Bryan Jr., class of 1989 and governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Laurice Moore, class of 1995 and president of the Wittenberg University Alumni Association. Class president Haley Eckhert, a psychology and business management double major from Columbus, Ohio, will also share remarks with her classmates.
GradImages, a leader in commencement photography, will handle capturing photos of all degree candidates with their diplomas for purchase.
Friday’s Baccalaureate service, planned and led by members of the senior class and David P. and Carol Matevia Endowed University Pastor Tracy Paschke-Johannes, is an academic and religious tradition that celebrates the upcoming Commencement festivities. The service, which will last approximately an hour, offers seniors an opportunity to reflect on their time at the University and to look to faith as they begin the next step in their journey.
Members of the Class of 2023 will share the importance of community and trust in times of change, as well as challenge one another to live out their callings beyond Wittenberg. President Frandsen will offer a greeting, and Paschke-Johannes will share a brief message and senior blessing.
Rooted in the historic Lutheran tradition of Wittenberg University, the Baccalaureate service will focus on the passing of light, vocation, and sending students back out into the world to share their light with others. Senior students participating in the service include Madalyn Marsengill from Sylvania, Ohio; Isabel Travis from Meadville, Pennsylvania; John DeVito from Alexandria, Virginia; Satta Sheriff from Monrovia, Montserrado, Liberia; Maya Hagander from Stafford, Virginia; and Eckhert. Chapel organist, David Weimer, will provide music throughout the event, which will be available via livestream here.
The annual tradition also includes the lighting of a memorial candle in honor of loved ones who cannot be at Commencement, or who have passed away. The members of the Class of 2023 wish to remember their classmate, Jack Benak, who tragically passed away on March 12, 2020. Wittenberg men’s soccer coach Dwight Burgess, Patterson Edris from Newburgh, Indiana, and Alex Zysik of Perrysburg, Ohio, will introduce the lighting and say a few words about Benak. An empty chair symbolizing Benak’s place in the class will be included in the Commencement ceremony, as well.
As part of the Commencement exercises, the Myers Hall bell will toll 15 times at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning and again at 10 a.m. to notify the campus that the ceremony will be held in its intended outdoor location at the scheduled time of 11:30 a.m. If the bell does not ring, that will be a signal that the ceremony will take place inside at the Pam Evans Smith Arena, part of the Health, Wellness & Athletics Complex.
Special parking has been arranged for physically disabled guests in the parking areas behind Carnegie and Recitation Halls. The exit to N. Plum Street (the road behind Koch Hall) will be reversed so that vehicles cannot exit onto N. Plum Street from W. Campus Drive and instead vehicles will be able to enter from N. Plum Street at 8 a.m. to allow easy access to the Recitation Hall and Carnegie Hall parking lots to accommodate parking for handicap guests only. To help alleviate traffic congestion, there will be no westbound traffic on W. Ward Street between Woodlawn Avenue and N. Wittenberg Avenue. Vehicular traffic will be redirected down Woodlawn Avenue to W. College Avenue. A shuttle service will be provided prior to and after the ceremony for those with mobility issues.
In order to allow guests to gather safely for the ceremony, Wittenberg will be closing East and West Campus Drives at 8 a.m. on May 13. Officers will be at these locations to assist graduates and their families and friends. Other parking locations include New Residence Hall, Tower Hall, Firestine Hall, Synod Hall, Hollenbeck Hall, the Benham-Pence Student Center, and Krieg Hall. Click here for directions, campus maps, and detailed parking information.
In the event of inclement weather and Commencement needing to be held at the Health, Wellness & Athletics Complex, the University will not regulate traffic on Ward Street. The handicapped parking for an indoor Commencement ceremony is located in the Upper Lot (across from HWA). Guests with disabilities can enter the HWA via the entrance facing Bill Edwards Drive. A shuttle service will be provided prior to and after the ceremony for those with mobility issues even if the event moves indoors.
Restrooms for an outdoor ceremony will be available on Commencement Day at Recitation Hall, Blair Hall, Weaver Chapel, and Ferncliff Hall. ADA-accessible facilities are located in Blair Hall and Weaver Chapel. ADA-accessible restrooms will also be available in the parking lot behind Carnegie Hall.
Immediately following the ceremony, Wittenberg will host a post-reception in honor of the Class of 2023 along Alumni Way. Light snacks and beverages will be provided, and graduates will be able to retrieve their diplomas at this time. All family members are invited to attend, and faculty and staff will be present. The backup rain site for this reception will be the 1929 Gymnasium.
Lastly, and in the spirit of Wittenberg's long history of senior class giving, members of the Class of 2023 will debut the inaugural green-and-gold philanthropy cord to recognize the generosity of giving back to the Wittenberg community. For more information on the cord, contact Tammy Schiessler in alumni engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional Commencement information, visit our commencement site. Be sure to follow a favorite Commencement tradition, #StompTheSeal, on social media, as well.