Media Advisory: Media invited to cover events during UNC’s Commencement weekend, May 9-11

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This year marks the inaugural spring Commencement weekend of UNC’s first female chancellor, Carol L. Folt. Members of the media are invited to attend the events below, including two new celebrations honoring the military and first-generation college students on Friday.


Friday (May 9)
Red, White and Carolina Blue Graduation
8:30 a.m.
Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

For the first time at Carolina, red, white and blue honor cords will be presented to military-affiliated graduates in a special ceremony in the Stone Center’s Hitchcock Multipurpose Room. The graduates will be able to wear the distinctive cords at Sunday’s Commencement as part of their regalia. For more information, see


Friday (May 9)
Diploma signing ceremony
2:45 p.m.
103 South Building

Folt will mark her first spring Commencement at Carolina by hand-signing the diplomas of four first-generation college students. (This event would serve as a great 30-second kicker for Commencement coverage or a feature opportunity.) Folt will make a few remarks before signing the diplomas, and the students will be available for interviews. The four students are representatives of the 671 first-generation undergraduate students who have applied for graduation. These students will receive the only hand-signed diplomas by Folt this spring.


Saturday (May 10)
Doctoral hooding ceremony
9:30 a.m.
Dean E. Smith Center

Graduate students, including those who earned their Ph.D.s in the past academic year rather than just in the spring semester, will come to the stage to have the hood of the Commencement regalia conferred by their advisers or dissertation committee chairs. The hooding ceremony will also be shown live via web stream at The speaker for the hooding ceremony is Carolina alumnus Timothy Beatley. Read more about Beatley here:


Sunday (May 11)
9:30 a.m.
Kenan Stadium (rain or shine)

Commencement website:

Commencement live stream link:


In honor of Folt’s first spring Commencement, the U.S. and N.C. flags flown at the ceremony will be displayed in Wilson Library and in the Carolina Union in commemoration of this historic event.


Speaker: Dr. Atul Gawande, a celebrated surgeon and best-selling author, will deliver Carolina’s spring Commencement address. For the release announcing Gawande as Commencement speaker, visit


During the ceremony, an honorary doctor of science degree will be awarded to Gawande. For more information on all six of this year’s honorary degree recipients, visit


Gawande photo:


Inclement weather: The Commencement ceremony will be held in Kenan Stadium, rain or shine. If it rains during Commencement, the ceremony could be shortened, but it will not be relocated. If severe weather threatens and attendees’ safety is at risk, the ceremony will be canceled, and News Services will inform media representatives about the cancellation.


Graduates: May Commencement is for students completing degree work this spring or summer. The official number of graduates is not yet available, as not all grades have been recorded or students cleared for graduation. The University registrar estimates that 5,991 students will graduate Sunday: 3,730 with bachelor’s, 1,423 with master’s, 217 with doctoral and 621 with professional degrees. The last are from the schools of dentistry, law, medicine, nursing and pharmacy.


Media parking: A limited number of spaces will be reserved in the department of public safety lot off Manning Drive. From Manning, turn onto Paul Hardin/Public Safety Drive (one traffic light west of the intersection of Manning and Skipper Bowles Drive/Ridge Road) and turn left into the public safety lot. Media identification will be required. Do not park in numbered spaces except No. 1 through No. 8. Media also may park in visitor spaces. Please RSVP to Susan Hudson ( no later than noon Friday (May 9).


Media representatives also may use lots and shuttles provided for Commencement guests, explained at Traffic into Chapel Hill is expected to be slow and heavy from about 8 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.


Media kits/seating: From the parking lot, walk past the trees to Kenan Stadium. Enter through Gate 6. Walk left, enter at section 120, walk down to the field and turn right to reach media seating on the field. Media kits will be available there from Karen Moon of the News Services staff. Media representatives will not be permitted in student or guest seating areas during the ceremony.


Broadcasters, videographers and photographers: Audio feeds will be available. Access to the field and surrounding track level will be limited to the designated media seating area. The setup will include a good spot for shots of crowd reaction. Broadcasters are asked to bring their own drop cords. At the start of Gawande’s speech, News Services staff will escort photographers for brief straight-on shots of the platform.


Other ceremonies: Many individual schools and departments will hold their own ceremonies this weekend. Locations and times are posted at


News Services contacts: Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595 (office), (919) 218-2467 (cell), or Mike McFarland, (919) 614-5436 (cell),


On-call pager: (919) 216-2584