CofC Logo


Commencement at the College of Charleston is a special time. For decades, the spring commencement ceremonies have taken place in the Cistern Yard where ancient live oak trees draped with Spanish moss set the stage, and Randolph Hall – the College’s oldest building — provides a fitting backdrop. Crossing the Cistern as graduates do in the spring is a symbolic tradition at the College. At our spring commencement ceremonies, women wear white dresses and carry roses while men wear white dinner jackets. Winter commencement ceremonies are ordinarily held indoors at TD Arena, and the dress code is black dresses for women and black tuxedos for men.

Commencement Webcasts

Congratulations, Class of 2017! View the full ceremony videos below.

Commencement Speakers

Dr. Sam Stafford

Dr. Sam Stafford III ’68

Stafford, a physician and former president of the CofC Alumni Association, graduated from the College in one of the only rained-out commencement ceremonies since they began being held in the Cistern Yard, Stafford earned his M.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina. He served in the Navy as a physician for more than 20 years and is currently a partner at Mount Pleasant Dermatology.

Stafford has remained involved at the College throughout his career and received the Alumni Award of Honor in 2014, the College of Charleston Alumni Association’s highest honor.

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch ’79

Colbert-Busch, the director of business development at Clemson University’s Restoration Institute, graduated from the College as a double major in fine arts and business administration and went on to found Charleston Women in International Trade. She’s a former member of the College of Charleston School of Business Alumni Advisory Board and is currently serving on the Alumni Association Board and the School of the Arts Advisory Council. Colbert-Busch received the Woman of the Year Award in 2011 from Charleston Women in International Trade.

She also ran for the U.S. House seat vacated by Sen. Tim Scott in 2013 and is the sister of “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert.

John E. Alessi

John E. Alessi ’98

Alessi, the co-founder and chief financial officer for Whip It Inventions, was a double major in studio arts and communication at the College and was named the 2011 Alumnus of the Year by the Alumni Association. His company launched a multimillion-dollar line of environmentally friendly cleaning products.

He’s also the vice president of sales and director of product development for the skincare line Shinto Clinical.