School & Dept. Ceremony Planning Toolkit

Please use the information below to assist in the planning of school or department graduation ceremonies.

General Information

Event Planning Information

Crowd Managers and Ushers

Crowd managers promote safety at public events and have knowledge and skills to assist patrons in the event of an emergency. Each department must have one member of its staff trained as a crowd manager for its school/department graduation ceremony. This staff member must be present during the graduation ceremony. The training is available online and is provided through the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. Please email [email protected] for instructions on how to complete this training.

Venues around Grounds are required by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety to have trained ushers. Certain venues have specific policies regarding ushers that comply with requirements issued by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. The number of required ushers varies based on the expected attendance for your event. Ushers can be hired through RMC Events, or departments can have staff members trained as crowd managers to serve as ushers. The venues below have specific requires regarding the number of trained ushers:

  • Aquatic & Fitness Center: 10 ushers (RMC Event Staff required for this venue)
  • John Paul Jones Arena: minimum of 21 ushers (RMC Event Staff required for this venue)
  • Memorial Gymnasium: 7 ushers (RMC Event Staff required for this venue)
  • North Grounds Gymnasium: 7 ushers (RMC Event Staff required for this venue)
  • Old Cabell Hall: 9 ushers
  • Slaughter Recreation Center: 4 ushers (RMC Event Staff required for this venue)

If your venue is not listed above, please contact Gerald Drumheller in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (982-4914 or [email protected]).  He will provide you with the number of recommended ushers for your event and will also advise on if your event will require tickets.  Please work with Gerald’s office to make the necessary arrangements for RMC Events or crowd manager training for staff members. 

If your venue does not require ushers, it may be beneficial to hire RMC Event staff to assist with crowd control, especially if your ceremony is in a central or outdoor location.

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Disability Accommodation Information

The University is committed to ensuring equal access for qualified individuals with disabilities in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), as well as other applicable state and local laws and University policy.

During Final Exercises, it is the responsibility of the schools and departments to plan for and meet the accessibility needs of graduates, guests, and speakers.  This begins with designating an event contact whose responsibilities will include ensuring physical as well as program accessibility and responding to disability-related accommodation requests.

Event contacts should be prepared to address a variety of disability accommodation requests.  Individuals with mobility disabilities including those who use wheelchairs will require accessible pathways to entrances, exits, and seating locations.  A speaker may need an adjustable height lectern and/or a ramp to access a raised stage or platform.  Individuals who are D/deaf or hard of hearing may require American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting services or real-time captioning.  Participants who are blind or have low vision may request printed materials in an accessible format.  Although each request for accommodation requires an individualized assessment, making accessibility an integral part of your planning process will foster full participation and may reduce the need for individual accommodation requests.
When publicizing your event please give participants the opportunity to request accommodations in advance by including the disability accommodation statement below.

Should you require disability-related accommodations, please send your request to [email protected] as early as possible, but no later than April 14, 2024, so that we have ample lead time to arrange for the necessary accommodations.  Examples of accommodations may include real-time captioning, ASL-English interpreting services, accessible digital copies of programs, accessible seating, and accessible parking.  Please include the following information in your request:

  1. Full Name:
  2. Contact Information:
  3. Degree Candidate:
    a. Name:
    b. School/Department/Major:
  4. Date and Location of the Event:
  5.  Accommodation requested:

Accommodation requests received at [email protected] will be forwarded to school and department contacts to be addressed.  The University ADA Coordinator will be available to provide assistance and guidance regarding accommodation request.  However, schools and departments are responsible for responding to requests as well as arranging and funding disability-related accommodations.

Schools and departments holding events at John Paul Jones Arena (JPJ) should provide real-time captioning regardless of whether or not the service is requested.  Please contact Robert Wheeler (434) 982-5134 for assistance with the coordination of captioning services at JPJ.  Other accommodation requests may be addressed on an individual basis.

The following resources are available to assist you with disability accommodation related inquiries:

  • For general questions about accessibility and disability related accommodation requests - Melvin Mallory, ADA Coordinator, [email protected]
  • For questions regarding ASL Interpreting Services and Real-time Captioning Services – Kristin Roush, Coordinator of Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Accessible Media Services, Student Disability Access Center, [email protected]
  • Questions about accessible parking and transportation should be directed to Parking and Transportation Services at Sara Sumner, [email protected]

Facilities Management

UVA Facilities Management provides support for many ceremonies taking place on Grounds. This support includes ordering and setting up chairs, podiums, sound systems, and any other service needed for school/department graduation ceremonies. Please contact Mike Merriam  at (434) 982-4665 with questions or service requests regarding your school/department ceremony.

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Guest Seating Tickets for Final Exercises

Each graduating student will receive six guest seating tickets for the Lawn ceremony.  Graduating students will be restricted to three guest seating tickets if the ceremony is moved inside to John Paul Jones Arena under the severe weather plan (due to building seating capacity limits).  Tickets are required for all guests (on the Lawn and in John Paul Jones Arena).  Guests without tickets can watch a live broadcast of the ceremony at one of the remote viewing locations across Grounds.  More information regarding guest tickets for Final Exercises and other Finals Weekend events is available here

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Parking and Transportation

Any reserved parking for school/department ceremonies must be requested through UVA Parking and Transportation.  This includes parking enforcement officers, reserved parking spaces, or reserved parking signs displayed parking lots at fair-, inclement, and severe- weather sites.  Please contact Marisa Cedrone to confirm any parking needs. 

Complimentary parking for graduates, families, and guests will be available at Scott Stadium and at John Paul Jones Arena with shuttle bus service to Central Grounds.  Buses will load at the entrance of the Student Activities Building (located in the Scott Stadium west parking lot) and near the west entrance of the arena. Return shuttles to these lots will run continuously from Central Grounds throughout Saturday afternoon.  Parking is also available in the Emmet/Ivy parking garage ($5 per vehicle), which is about a 10 minute walk to the Lawn (no shuttle service). Guests staying in on-Grounds Housing during Finals Weekend are encouraged to park in the S6 parking lot at Scott Stadium, nearest the Student Activities Building, as well as across from the Gooch/Dillard Residence Area. More information regarding Finals Weekend parking is available here

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Pavilion Garden and Outdoor Event Regulations


  • The sponsor shall be responsible for the condition of the reserved area following the event, and shall be responsible for any costs incurred by the University as a result of the event.
  • The sponsor may bring its own food and beverages or food and beverages may be provided by a caterer. 
  • For events involving alcohol, the sponsor is responsible for adhering to the University of Virginia alcohol policy and Virginia ABC laws.  Copies of the alcohol policy are available in the Reservations Office and the Office of the Dean of Students.


  • Reservations shall be for the "lower" garden only and not the "upper" garden adjacent to the Pavilion (except in Garden 8 which is not divided by shrubs or a wall).
  • The activity may not begin before 10:00 a.m. and must end no later than 8:00 p.m. or dusk (whichever occurs first).  Set-up and breakdown times shall be arranged when the reservation is made; set-up and breakdown shall occur as close before and after the event as is possible.  Tables, chairs and other equipment should not be left in the gardens over night.
  • Activities shall be confined to the garden paths and turf areas only.  There shall be no intrusion into mulch areas or beds, nor sitting on garden walls.  Tables, chairs, and other equipment shall not be placed in mulch areas or beds.
  • The following are not permitted in the gardens: amplified sound, lights, grills, and tents.
  • Ice and trash shall be removed from the gardens immediately after event ends.  Ice shall not be dumped in any area of the garden.  All trash must be placed in nearest dumpster or trash receptacle.
  • For events which involve alcohol, attendance must be limited to organization members and their invited guests.  Events which involve alcohol and at which both underage and of age persons will be in attendance, must be approved in advance by the Dean of Students (or designee).  BYOB by individuals and kegs are not permitted in the gardens.
  • There are no restrooms or telephones available for public use in the gardens.
  • Questions regarding parking should be directed to the Department of Parking and Transportation at 924-7231.
  • The sponsor shall be responsible for the cost to repair damages to any area(s) of the garden caused by negligence or failure to follow guidelines by the sponsor or sponsor's guests.
  • For more information, contact the Event Planning Office in Newcomb Hall at 924-3203.

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Remote (Indoor) Viewing Locations

Please note that many school and department ceremony locations serve as remote viewing locations for Final Exercises on the Lawn. These indoor facilities show a live broadcast of Saturday's and Sunday's Lawn ceremony. Tickets are not required for the remote viewing locations. The following venues are remote viewing locations for Final Exercises:

  • Alumni Hall Ballroom - Saturday, May 18, ONLY
  • Newcomb Hall Ballroom - Both Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19
  • Newcomb Hall Theatre - Both Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19

If your department ceremony takes place in one of the above venues, you are welcome to arrive early to set-up for your ceremony. Please be aware that guests of graduates without tickets to the Lawn ceremony will be arriving at the venue throughout the morning to watch the live broadcast. Please be sure to discontinue all set-up for your ceremony by 9 a.m. so that guests can watch the Lawn ceremony without interruption. We anticipate that the Lawn ceremony will end by 10:45 - 11:15 a.m.

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