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Important Update About Commencement

Dear Members of the Class of 2024 and Parents and Family Members, 

Last week, when we affirmed our commitment to holding Commencement on its originally planned date of May 26, we shared with you that we were exploring alternative locations for the ceremony. As promised, we are writing with more detailed information about this year’s ceremony.

After a great deal of deliberation and an extensive exploration of possible locations, we have decided to hold Commencement at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, a beautiful, open-air, covered venue in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park located about 10 miles from campus. A list of important logistical details is below; please review them closely. Important information about this change is below and also available on the Commencement website

We are confident the Mann Center will allow us to host a joyful, memorable, and inspiring Commencement. It is a beautiful setting that has hosted a wide range of performances and other events, including several other commencement ceremonies. At the same time, we know that some of you will be disappointed by the decision to move the ceremony off campus. The fact is that there is really no viable on-campus alternative to Parrish Lawn that can accommodate an event as complex and large as Commencement. 

We carefully considered moving the ceremony to the Lamb-Miller Field House, but, in the end, it presented too many limitations. Among the most significant challenges is that the Field House cannot accommodate all of our expected visitors. That would leave family members and friends of graduates who have long been planning to attend this special milestone having to watch the event on a screen in an overflow space somewhere else on campus. Throughout the year, we have told seniors and families that there are no capacity restrictions at Commencement. Reversing that now would go against our belief in holding an inclusive, welcoming ceremony.  

Some have suggested we hold the ceremony at the Scott Outdoor Amphitheater. We moved away from that location after May 2019 for a number of reasons, including the fact that it presents significant accessibility challenges and — like the Field House — cannot accommodate the number of family members, friends, and other guests planning to attend.

Many of you have expressed frustration that we don’t simply clear the encampment that is located on Parrish Lawn, which is where we intended to hold the ceremony this year. Swarthmore has a longstanding commitment to supporting peaceful protest. As we’ve seen at other institutions, attempts to clear encampments have often led to physical confrontations — including between police officers and protesters — and, in many cases, have not successfully ended the protests.

These are challenging times, to say the least. We are incredibly proud of our seniors, and we are focusing all of our attention on ensuring that Commencement will be a festive and inclusive occasion. We appreciate your patience and understanding, and we look forward to celebrating this remarkable milestone on Sunday.  


Tomoko Sakomura
Acting Co-President
Provost and Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Art History

Rob Goldberg
Acting Co-President
Vice President for Finance and Administration

Key Points

  • Commencement will take place at the Mann Center, an open-air, covered venue in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, located about 10 miles from campus..
  • All attendees will be subject to the Mann Center’s policies and procedures. Visit the Mann Center website for information on permitted and prohibited items. 
  • The ceremony’s new start time is 11 a.m. 
  • We will provide transportation from campus to and from the venue for all seniors, family members, and faculty and staff who need it. We will provide more detailed information on transportation soon.
  • Seating is unlimited, but guests will need tickets to enter the venue. Graduating seniors may pick up tickets for their guests during rehearsal, which will take place on campus on Friday, May 24. Graduating seniors will not need tickets to enter. Seniors will receive more information about rehearsal and other details in the days ahead. 
  • ADA accommodation requests should be directed to Swarthmore’s ADA Program Manager Susan Smythe at
  • Graduates will still receive roses from Scott Arboretum volunteers, and the ceremony will still be livestreamed with simultaneous translation in Spanish and Mandarin.
  • Last Collection (Friday, May 24) and Baccalaureate (Saturday, May 25) will take place on campus as planned. 
  • You are invited to enjoy the complimentary refreshments that will be available at the Mann Center before the ceremony and at the reception immediately afterward.
  • More information about the ceremony and the venue is available on the Commencement website.