Your Guide to Commencement Weekend 2019

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At long last, it’s here. Commencement Weekend kicks off on Thursday, as friends and family begin arriving in town to help members of the Class of 2019 celebrate their big day. The University is hosting a series of events and activities, both on campus and off, that culminate with the 146th All-University Commencement at 1 pm Sunday, May 19, when about 20,000 guests will arrive at Nickerson Field to cheer on an estimated 7,509 graduates.

We’ve put together a list of some highlights below. For information about security, parking, convocations, public transportation, and where to pick up caps and gowns, see our Commencement FAQs story.

Thursday, May 16

BU Senior Party at Boston’s Lawn On D

Family and friends are welcome to the final event of Senior Week 2019. Enjoy music and lawn games and take a selfie while riding the iconic solar-powered, donut-shaped swings at Boston’s Lawn On D, at 420 D Street. Food and beverages are available for purchase as well. Tickets, which can be reserved on Eventbrite, are free for BU seniors and $20 for guests. The party is from 11 am to 3 pm and free shuttles will take you from campus to the Lawn On D starting at 10:45 am. Guests must be accompanied by a BU senior at check-in.

Students hanging out on swings and playing oversized games at The Lawn on D

BU seniors and their guests are invited to a celebration Thursday at Boston’s Lawn On D, featuring lawn games like bocce and ping-pong and rides on the iconic solar-powered swings. Photo by Cydney Scott

Saturday, May 18

Riverboat Cruise on the Charles

What better way to take in the Boston skyline than with a relaxing cruise down the Charles River? The 30-minute narrated tour offers a great overview of Boston for guests new to the city. Boats depart from the Deerfield Dock, reached by crossing the footbridge on Silber Way. Departures begin at 9:30 am, with the last at 2:25 pm, rain or shine. Tickets are $10 per person and must be purchased in advance. Online sales have ended, but remaining tickets can be purchased at the Warren Towers front desk at 700 Commonwealth Ave., fourth floor, open Thursday, from 3 to 8 pm, Friday, 8 am to 8 pm, and Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm.

105th BU Night at the Pops

Join classmates and their families for one of BU’s oldest—and most popular—Commencement traditions, BU Night at the Pops, at Symphony Hall. This year, the world-famous Boston Pops is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of ’69, from the moon landing to Woodstock. Saturday’s concert, led by Pops conductor Keith Lockhart (Hon.’04), will include a new work, co-commissioned by the Pops, for orchestra and narrator, “From the Earth to the Moon and Beyond,” by composer Jim Beckel in honor of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. This unforgettable evening of music will also feature appearances by the BU Band and our own baton-wagging mascot, Rhett the Terrier. BU will provide free shuttle buses between 700 Commonwealth Avenue and Symphony Hall starting at 6:45 pm. Tickets range from $25 to $96. Online sales have ended, but remaining tickets can be purchased at the Warren Towers front desk at 700 Commonwealth Ave., fourth floor, open on Thursday, from 3 to 8 pm, Friday, 8 am to 8 pm, and Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm. Tickets can also be purchased on Saturday evening at the BU Will Call table at Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave., Boston.

Keith Lockhart conducting the Boston Pops

One of BU’s most beloved Commencement traditions is BU Night at the Pops, at Symphony Hall. Saturday’s concert, which celebrates the Summer of ’69, will be led by Pops conductor Keith Lockhart (Hon.’04). Photo by Stu Rosner

Sunday, May 19

Baccalaureate Service

All graduates and their families are invited to attend the annual Baccalaureate Service at Marsh Chapel at 11 am. This year, John P. Howe III (MED’69), former president and CEO of Project HOPE and a BU trustee, will deliver the Baccalaureate address. Howe will receive an honorary degree at the main Commencement ceremony. Rev. Robert Allan Hill, dean of Marsh Chapel, will lead the interdenominational service; also participating are Robert A. Brown, BU president, and Jean Morrison, BU provost. Scott Allen Jarrett (CFA’99,’08) will direct the Marsh Chapel Choir and Majestic Brass will provide musical accompaniment. Find information about other on-campus worship services here.

146th All-University Commencement

The 146th All-University Commencement begins promptly at 1 pm on Nickerson Field, rain or shine. Tickets are not required for admission, and there is no limit to the number of guests. Seating is first come, first served, and attendees are encouraged to arrive at the field no later than noon, as the stands fill quickly. Designated areas will be reserved for guests with disabilities. The Commencement ceremony will last approximately two hours.

Guests and bags will be screened. Graduates must carry their caps and gowns to the ceremony to expedite screening, and bag size is limited to 12″ x 12″ x 6″. Oversized totes, backpacks, briefcases, and wrapped presents will not be allowed on the field. There will be an express lane for guests not carrying a bag.

The BU Seal on Nickerson Field

On Sunday, May 19, about 20,000 guests are expected to arrive on Nickerson Field to cheer on the estimated 7,509 graduates. Photo by Dave Green

Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, will deliver Boston University’s 146th Commencement Address and receive an honorary Doctor of Science.

John P. Howe III (MED’69), former president and CEO of Project HOPE and a BU trustee, will deliver the Baccalaureate Address Sunday morning. He will also receive an honorary Doctor of Science.

Others honorary degree recipients are Lauren Shuler Donner (CGS’69, COM’71), Hollywood producer and philanthropist, Doctor of Humane Letters; and Karen Holmes Ward (COM’77), WCVB director of public affairs and community services, Doctor of Humane Letters.

Webcast

Those unable to attend the All-University Commencement can watch a live broadcast of the ceremony here starting at 1 pm. It will also be broadcast live on WBUR, 90.9 FM.

Find more information about Commencement here.

Graduate student Madeleine O’Keefe (CAS’18, COM’19) can be reached at [email protected]; follow her on Twitter @OKeefeMadeleine.