Commencement Updates

Click here to watch the live stream of this year’s ceremony!


A few key updates regarding commencement plans for next Wednesday, May 19:

  • Graduate RSVP and guest registrations are now closed. Graduates who confirmed their attendance for the ceremony will be emailed their guests’ tickets on Monday, May 17. Tickets will be sent to the email that you listed during the registration process. Ticket emails will come from Brittany Wade ( and Christine Powell (, so please keep an eye on your inbox.
  • Guidance for graduates and their guests for the day of the event will be included with the guest ticket. It is the graduate’s responsibility to ensure guests are aware of and adhere to all of the requirements for attendance.
  • Graduates will receive an empty diploma cover at the ceremony. Diplomas will be mailed to graduates at a later date once all grades are completed and the registrar’s office finalizes the certification of their graduation. It is very important that all graduates have the correct address on file to ensure that their diplomas and any awards they may receive are shipped to the correct address. Please contact the registrar’s office at with any address changes.
  • Graduates should plan to arrive at the tennis courts for line-up no later than 9:15 a.m.
  • Commencement will be held rain or shine; there is wet weather in the forecast leading up to and including commencement day, so the field will likely be wet and muddy. Please wear appropriate footwear to navigate a soggy field.


Graduate RSVP and guest registrations are now closed.  Graduates who confirmed their attendance for the ceremony will be emailed their guests’ tickets along with additional information about the event.  Please continue to check the email that you listed during the registration process for these items in the upcoming days.


Yesterday, members of the undergraduate class of 2021, as well as graduate students from the classes of 2020 and 2021, were provided additional information regarding plans for commencement exercises on Wednesday, May 19, at 10 a.m.

The event will take place outside on the athletic practice field across from the Batten Tennis Center along West Campus Drive. All graduates may invite three guests to attend. There will be a multi-tiered registration process in order to acquire the number of guests and guest names in advance, as there will be a ticketing process in place to ensure Hollins adheres to the guidance from the governor’s office. The field will be organized by pods that can safely accommodate three guests. Those pods will be randomly assigned once the registration process is completed. Hollins plans to have video boards on both sides of the stage and a sound system in place so that all in the audience can enjoy the event.

Current Hollins trustee Elizabeth Kolmstetter ’85 was selected with the help of the class of 2021 to serve as the day’s guest speaker. She has led a distinguished career across eight different federal agencies, including currently as NASA’s director of talent strategy and engagement. Kolmstetter’s mother is Paula P. Brownlee, who was president of Hollins from 1981 to 1990.

As in years past, the event will also be livestreamed, so all students, faculty, and staff who wish to view the event will be able to do so virtually.


Dear Class of 2020 and Class of 2021,

As you may have seen in the March 19 Stay Gold email or in the news, Gov. Northam recently announced important changes to how educational institutions can hold graduation and commencement ceremonies.

One key decision was to limit indoor capacity for such events to 500, which means the Berglund Center is no longer a viable option for Hollins because it would not allow for any guests. We are presently evaluating several outdoor locations on campus to maximize the number of potential guests per graduate while remaining in compliance with outdoor space limitations set by the governor. While we don’t yet have a firm number, we are optimistic we will be able to accommodate three guests per graduate.

Commencement will still take place on Wednesday, May 19, beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Please note the change in time from previous announcements.

We will continue to work through the comprehensive requirements and will provide a final plan for you no later than Thursday, April 15. This final plan will include details on the specific location on campus, the number of guests allowed, how to register those guests in advance (which will be required), the public health protocols we must follow, and other details.

We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding as we adjust our plans to remain in line with the governor’s changing restrictions while seeking to do the best we can to serve student and family expectations for this important event.

Kerry Edmonds                                     Patty O’Toole
Executive Vice President                Vice President for Student Affairs
and Chief Financial Officer            and Dean of Students


Dear Class of 2020 and Class of 2021,

In February, we shared our plans to host our 2021 Commencement Exercises at the Berglund Center in downtown Roanoke on Wednesday, May 19. Based on gathering level restrictions outlined in the governor’s Third Amended Executive Order 72, those plans are in jeopardy, and Hollins must now evaluate possible alternatives. Please note: At this time, we are not announcing any changes regarding commencement; however, we want you to be aware of recent actions that may ultimately impact our plans.

In the recent executive order, events such as commencement have been categorized as “social gatherings,” a more highly restricted category that would not only require us to forego a ceremony at the Berglund Center, but it would also prevent us from conducting a large outdoor event on campus. This announcement from the governor’s office offers more explanation and the varied restrictions associated with different categories.

Representatives from the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia and leaders from higher education institutions have expressed significant concern about the current classification and have urged a reexamination of it by the Commonwealth. This request is under consideration within the governor’s administration, and while there is no guarantee that the classification will change, we are pleased that the conversation is ongoing.

We hope to hear from the governor’s team soon. In the meantime, the Hollins University Cabinet is in the process of developing alternative plans and will engage senior class leadership and graduate program directors as the process moves forward. We will announce our updated commencement plans no later than April 15. Until we learn more from the governor’s office, we encourage attendees to avoid making nonrefundable travel arrangements.

While we may have to change the scope of our plans, we continue to look forward to celebrating our students’ accomplishments on May 19, 2021.

Levavi Oculos,

President Mary Dana Hinton and the Hollins University Cabinet


Hollins University’s commencement exercises for 2021 have officially been set for Wednesday, May 19, at 1 p.m. Provided public health limits on gathering size permit it, the event will be held in downtown Roanoke at the Berglund Center in order to allow graduates to invite up to six guests.

This year’s commencement will honor members of the class of 2021 receiving bachelor’s degrees, as well as graduate students earning advanced degrees in both 2020 and 2021. As in past years, this event will be livestreamed for those unable to attend. Reservations for attendees will be required in advance. Additional details about the reservation process as well as other commencement information will be shared with the community in the coming weeks.

Undergraduates from the class of 2020, whose commencement was postponed last year due to the pandemic, have elected to have their celebration coincide with Reunion Weekend in June 2022.

While our goal is to celebrate together in person and with guests as planned, please be aware these plans may change based on guidance from and/or restrictions imposed by the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health, or an executive order by the governor. If a change were to occur, we would notify the community accordingly.