Baccalaureate & Commencement
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Baccalaureate is historically a worship service at which a sermon is preached for the graduating class. During much of its history as an Episcopal college, Kenyon held the Baccalaureate service in the chapel according to the forms set forth in the Book of Common Prayer and featuring a prominent member of the clergy as a preacher. In recent years, the College's custom has been to expand this venerable ceremony in ways that highlight Kenyon's academic mission and make the occasion accessible to the broader College community.
To accommodate the growing number of graduates and family members over the years, the ceremony has moved to an outdoor setting. Academic and spiritual texts and chosen and read by a few select seniors to represent an aspect of their particular fields of study or to speak on behalf of communities of faith at Kenyon. In place of a sermon, an address is given by a representative of the College who has been selected by a vote of the graduating class. The invocation and benediction, which call to mind the historic purpose of Baccalaureate, are carefully framed by the participating religious leaders to reflect Kenyon's commitment to being an open and inclusive community.
Commencement is the formal academic ceremony at which graduates' degrees are officially conferred by their institution. It is a ceremony that includes practices that are hundreds of years old, as well as traditions that are specific to Kenyon College.
Retiring faculty members and other dignitaries receive honorary degrees, and a speaker chosen with the help of the senior class delivers an address.
Seniors waiting to receive their diplomas are hooded by college marshals prior to walking across the stage. Kenyon is one of relatively few undergraduate institutions to retain this particular tradition. (Most colleges and universities only hood graduates at the masters or doctoral level.) Each graduating senior's name is read in English, after which his or her degree and honors are announced, in Latin, by the faculty secretary.