Media invited to cover events during UNC-Chapel Hill’s commencement weekend, May 12-14

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Media invited to cover events during UNC-Chapel Hill’s commencement weekend, May 12-14


Alumna and CNN news anchor Brooke Baldwin to address 2017 graduates


(Chapel Hill, N.C. –  May 10, 2017) – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will host its spring Commencement on Sunday, May 14 at 9 a.m., featuring Brooke Baldwin, anchor of CNN Newsroom’s weekday edition and an alumna of the UNC School of Media and Journalism, as Commencement speaker. Members of the media are invited to attend all of the events scheduled throughout the weekend in celebration of Carolina’s graduates.


In addition to presiding over Commencement, Chancellor Carol L. Folt will speak at the Red, White and Carolina Blue Graduation honoring Carolina’s military-affiliated graduates and the doctoral hooding ceremony, which acknowledges students who have become masters in their fields.


The weekend will culminate in the formal Commencement presentation, with the Class of 1967 walking into Kenan Stadium with the Class of 2017 to listen to Baldwin’s address. Baldwin joined CNN in 2008 and took over the anchor position of CNN Newsroom in 2010. Most recently, Baldwin played an integral role in CNN’s record-breaking coverage of the 2016 presidential election.


Friday (May 12)

Red, White and Carolina Blue Graduation

9 a.m.

The Great Hall of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union

Folt will attend this special graduation ceremony honoring Carolina’s military-affiliated graduates. The ceremony will pay tribute to their service and accomplishments as students by presenting graduates that are veterans, currently serving in the military or ROTC students commissioning upon graduation, with red, white and blue honor cords. The students will wear their cords at Sunday’s Commencement as special recognition for their military commitment. This ceremony is part of the University’s continued expansion of support for military-affiliated students. Read more about the event here.


Media check in: 8:45 a.m.

If you would like to cover the event or have any questions, please contact: Kate Luck, (919) 445-8360, She will also be the on-site contact May 12.


Saturday (May 13)

Doctoral hooding ceremony

9:30 a.m.

Dean E. Smith Center

Folt will speak at this colorful hooding ceremony, acknowledging those students who became masters in their fields. Graduate students, including those who earned their dostorate’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 advisors or dissertation committee chairs. Read more about the event here.


Media check in: 9:15 a.m.

If you would like to cover the event or have any questions, please contact: Thania Benios, (919) 962-8596, She will also be the on-site contact May 13.


Hooding live stream link.

The full ceremony will also be available on the University’s YouTube channel a few days after the event.



Richard Lenski, Carolina alumnus and biologist whose long-term experiment tracked evolution for more than 65,000 generations of E. coli bacteria, will deliver the keynote speech. Read more about Lenski here.


Sunday (May 14)


9 a.m.

Kenan Stadium

The Class of 2017 will walk into Kenan Stadium with the Class of 1967, which is celebrating its 50th Reunion over the weekend. Also, Folt has arranged for an empty chair with flowers to be placed in the first row of seated graduates as a tribute to the students Carolina lost this year and to Deah Barakat, a member of the Class of 2017.


Commencement website.


Commencement live stream link.

The full ceremony will also be available on the University’s YouTube channel a few days after the event.



Brooke Baldwin, a Carolina alumna who anchors the 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. weekday edition of CNN Newsroom, will deliver Carolina’s spring Commencement address. Find the full news release here. Baldwin will have a small window of media availability following the ceremony. University Communications representatives will be on hand to assist you. For a photo of Baldwin, click here.


Honorary degrees:

During the ceremony, Carolina will award honorary degrees to three individuals. More information on this year’s honorary degree recipients here. For photos of the honorary degree recipients, click here.


Inclement weather:

The Commencement ceremony will be held in Kenan Stadium. If it rains during Commencement, the Chancellor and organizers may shorten the ceremony, but it will not be relocated. Umbrellas will be permitted, but guests should use caution when using umbrellas and be mindful of those seated around them.


If severe weather is expected Commencement morning, the University may postpone the ceremony to allow for the threat to pass. If there are weather-related delays, the latest possible start time for Commencement would be 11 a.m. If severe weather threatens while the ceremony is in progress and the attendee’s safety is at risk, the ceremony will be canceled and guests will be advised to seek shelter. The ceremony will not resume. University Communications will inform media about the delay or cancellation. Weather-related updates will be available at and on the Commencement website. Carolina also offers text alerts to inform media and all Commencement attendees if the main ceremony has been delayed or canceled due to weather or any unexpected circumstances. Sign up here.



Spring 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 nor students cleared for graduation. As of May 10, the University registrar estimates that 6,028 students will graduate Sunday: 3,807 with bachelor’s, 1,337 with masters, 270 with doctoral and 614 with professional degrees from the schools of dentistry, law, medicine, nursing and pharmacy and 32 with certificates. For more information on the Class of 2017, visit here.


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. Parking will be available along the left side of the cones across the lot and toward the 2nd entrance to the lot as indicated by a special sign at the entrance. Do not park in numbered spaces. Please RSVP to MC VanGraafeiland ( no later than noon Friday, May 12.


Media representatives also may use lots and shuttles provided for Commencement guests, explained here.


Traffic into Chapel Hill is expected to be heavy from 7:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m.


Media check-in/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. Kate Luck from University Communications will be checking in press at the media table and Karen Moon be on site in the media section on the field. This year, all graduates will be seated on the field; however, media 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. Broadcasters are asked to bring their own drop cords.


Other ceremonies:

Many individual schools and departments will hold their own ceremonies during Commencement weekend. Locations and times are posted here.




About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 77 bachelor’s, 110 master’s, 64 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s 317,000-plus alumni live in all 50 states and 156 other countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.


UNC-Chapel Hill Communications contact: Will Rimer, (919) 445-0945