Commencement Information

Celebrating our Cougar Graduates - May 6, 7, and 8, 2021

Commencement ceremonies will be held in two outdoor locations and all will be live-streamed on the College of Charleston Facebook page. Please read the information below for students and guests, and check back for any updates.

Ceremony Schedule

Thursday, May 6

  • Thursday, 2:00-4:00 PM: Ceremony at College of Charleston Patriots Point Soccer Stadium with in-person guests with all seven schools participating. Please note this ceremony is in a stadium with no shade. Please dress accordingly and wear sunscreen. Concessions will be open. Candidates need to arrive at 12:30 PM. (Line-Up PDF here)

Friday, May 7

  • Friday, 2:00-3:30 PM: Ceremony for School of Humanities and Social Sciences in College of Charleston Cistern Yard with outdoor satellite locations for guests. Candidates need to arrive at 12:30 PM.(Line-Up PDF here
  • Friday, 6:00-7:30 PM: Ceremony for the Graduate School; School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs and School of Sciences and Mathematics in College of Charleston Cistern Yard with outdoor satellite locations for guests. Candidates need to arrive at 4:30 PM. (Line-Up PDF here

Saturday, May 8

  • Saturday, 9:00-10:30 AM: Ceremony for School of Business in College of Charleston Cistern Yard with outdoor satellite locations for guests. Candidates need to arrive at 7:30 AM. (Line-Up PDF here)
  • Saturday, 1:00-2:30 PM: Ceremony for School of the Arts and School of Education, Health, and Human Performance in College of Charleston Cistern Yard with outdoor satellite locations for guests. Candidates need to arrive at 11:30 AM. (Line-Up PDF here)
  • Saturday, 4:00-5:30 PM - Tentative: Due to COVID restrictions and changes made by students after a certain date, it may be necessary to schedule an extra ceremony in Cistern Yard to accommodate all of these late changes and additions.  All efforts will be made to place students in those Cistern ceremonies listed above, but if safety cannot be maintained, this Saturday ceremony will be necessary. All graduates steered to this ceremony will be notified via email.

Sunday, May 9 (Tentative)

  • Make-up date for any weather-impacted ceremonies from May 6 to 8. Times will be announced if needed.





Helen Turner Hill

helen hill

Helen Turner Hill is the chief executive officer of Explore Charleston (also known as the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau). The nonprofit organization represents 800 member businesses and ten municipal governments in the tri-county region with the mission to create overnight visitation and support responsible development through travel and tourism strategies. Growing up in Charleston provided Hill with unique insights that she has put to use throughout her more than 30 years of promoting the region as a leisure and business destination. Hill will be awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctorate Letters from the College.

Andrew Lewis

Andrew Lewis

Andrew H. Lewis retired in 2017 after 40 years of service to the College of Charleston. During his tenure, Lewis served in the following administrator positions: department chair for the Department of Health and Human Performance for 11 years (first African American to chair an academic department); interim assistant dean for undergraduate studies; associate dean for the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance; and director of Professional Development in Education. Lewis, who was among the first African American professors to join the College’s faculty in the 1970s, says, “My students are my legacy.”

Andrew Sobiesuo

Andrew Sobiesuo

Andrew M. Sobiesuo served as associate provost for the Center for International Education at the College of Charleston and senior international officer. He provided vision and leadership in the development, implementation and management of all international programs and services in compliance with college, state and federal regulations. He retired in 2020 after 30 years of service at the College. As a crusader for study abroad and international education Sobiesou says, “Creating opportunities for students to see the world – for students to get to know that there’s more beyond their own comfort zones – has been the highlight of my career at the College.”

Nigel Redden

nigel redden

Nigel Redden is the general director of Spoleto Festival USA. Redden began his career with Spoleto while still in college as a studente assistente at the Festival of Two Worlds in Italy. He rejoined Spoleto Festival USA in October 1995 after having previously served as the festival’s general manager from 1986 to 1991. As general director, Redden has ensured the economic security of the festival, spearheading an endowment campaign and carrying Spoleto through many difficult times, most recently the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At Spoleto Festival USA, Redden has championed emerging artists, commissioned new operas and overseen significant art exhibitions. Redden has also been instrumental in the restoration of both the Dock Street Theatre and Festival Hall, formerly Memminger Auditorium. In 2013, Redden received an Honorary Degree of Doctorate Letters from the College.

Valerie Morris

Valerie Morris

Valerie B. Morris served as dean of the College of Charleston’s School of the Arts from the fall of 1998 until she retired in 2020. As dean, she oversaw the departments of Art History, Music, Studio Art, and Theatre and Dance, plus programs in arts management and historic preservation and community planning. She was responsible for the production of approximately 200 events per year and provided leadership in cultural education, programming and scholarships for the school and community.


COVID-19 Protocols

  • In order to keep social distance in Cistern Yard, guests are not permitted at these ceremonies. This, unfortunately, has no exceptions. No guests of any type, including family members, friends or faculty, can be present. Only your school’s dean will participate as part of a scaled back platform party.
  • For the ceremony at Patriots Point, each participant will receive four general admission tickets. For the ceremonies in Cistern Yard, each participant will receive two general admission tickets for a satellite location. No faculty will be present and only your school’s dean will participate as part of a scaled back platform party.

COVID-19 Testing Options

In our ongoing efforts to keep positive cases out of the general population, the College will be offering testing for students, faculty, staff and guests at Stern Center on the corner of Glebe and George streets.

If you are a student, faculty or staff and participating in a ceremony, please test according to the following timeline:

The dates of free voluntary testing are as follows:

  • Monday 5.3.21: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. - MUSC, open to CofC students, faculty and staff
  • Tuesday 5.4.21: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. - DHEC, open to CofC students, faculty, staff, family and the greater Charleston community
  • Wednesday 5.5.21: 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. - MUSC, open to CofC students, faculty and staff

Testing at least 2-3 days prior to your anticipated commencement ceremony gives you time to receive your results.

Mask Up and Social Distance

The CDC has not changed its guidance regarding the need to wear masks at large outdoor gatherings. Therefore, our plans to require masks and social distancing at our spring commencement ceremonies and satellite viewing locations remain unchanged. The College will continue to require that people coming to campus wear a mask at all times, whether indoors or out.

Maintain physical distance. Keeping yourself 6 feet apart especially from members outside of your household will go a long way to preventing the spread of COVID.

Face Coverings

Face coverings must always be worn correctly at all times except as noted. As you line-up to have your name called, three photographs will be taken in quick succession, and you do not have to wear your face covering for these photographs. Your covering can stay off for these three professional photo shots: 1. before your name is called in the line-up, 2. at a safe social distance on the Cistern or on stage at Patriots Point field with President Hsu and 3. immediately after the photo with President Hsu. Note: There will be no diplomas handed out and no handshakes. After your three photographs have been taken, please immediately put your face covering back on.


This will be a no-contact event, and social distancing is mandatory. Master’s graduates will process wearing their hoods, instead of the traditional “hooding” of graduates.

Virtual Viewing

All ceremonies will be live-streamed at

Approximately three weeks later, the ceremony videos will be available on the commencement website. 

In an effort to accommodate graduates’ guests to be near Cistern Yard - the Rivers Green, the Stern Garden and the School of Sciences and Mathematics Building’s Courtyard will be set up as live-streaming satellite locations. Guests with tickets will be accommodated at these satellite locations on a first-come/first-served basis. Once the capacity of a venue is reached, guests will be directed to another site. Some chairs will be available, and guests are welcome to bring a blanket (no folding chairs) for the ground. There will be limited indoor seating for those who need relief from the heat. Tickets arequired for entry. 

Please note that the outdoor satellite locations provide exactly the same experience as viewing the ceremony from the comfort of any other location with a device with internet.  The venues are in open spaces with very little shade so please dress accordingly and wear sunscreen. 

Rest assured that no matter which ceremony you attend, your health and well-being and that of your guests, remain our number-one priority.


General admission tickets for guests at the downtown satellite locations, as well as those for guests attending the ceremony in-person at Patriots Point were sent to participating candidates via their email accounts. Each student participating at Patriots Point Soccer Stadium received four general admission tickets. Each candidate in Cistern Yard received two general admission tickets for satellite locations.

Please note that all ceremonies will be live streamed and available for viewing anywhere with a device with internet.

Candidates will receive two emails; a confirmation email of participation in graduation and an email with all of the guest tickets, via mobile tickets. These mobile tickets can be downloaded to a smartphone or can be downloaded as a PDF and printed out. Please note, all tickets will be in one email.

If necessitated by health-related concerns or mandates by local, state or federal guidance, the College reserves the right to make changes to ceremony plans, including the number of in-person guests allowed after the release of tickets. While we do not foresee this happening, we highly recommend  that guests seek refundable travel plans where possible.

 2020 Commencement

Who can Participate

All candidates who graduated in Spring/Summer 2020, Fall 2020, and all candidates eligible to graduate in Spring/Summer 2021 may participate in these Spring 2021 ceremonies, INCLUDING those who participated in the October 2020 ceremonies in Cistern Yard.

The April 27 deadline for graduates to complete a participation survey and request any changes has passed. For information on this, please read commencement participation information. 

A graduation application is required before a student is eligible to participate in an upcoming commencement ceremony. Failure to complete the application promptly can result in a delay in both degree posting and diploma ordering, and it can also result in the student's name being omitted from the commencement program and ceremony ticket list. (Participation in commencement is assumed and encouraged, however, it is not mandatory. The Qualtrics Participation Choice survey is not a substitute for a graduation application. Please apply as directed.)

  » Undergraduate Student Graduation Application
  » Graduate Student Graduation Application