When it’s May in Charlottesville, it’s time to matriculate.
University of Virginia students will celebrate academic accomplishments this weekend with a variety of events leading up to and following ceremonial walks down the Lawn as part of the annual rites of graduation.
The events will help fill area hotel rooms and restaurants with friends and family of the 7,090 students who are receiving diplomas.
“UVa graduation is a real boon to Charlottesville’s local economy,” said Adam Healey, interim director of the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“It’s perhaps the busiest weekend of the year, as hotel occupancy maxes out and guests dine in our fantastic restaurants, take in our local attractions and visit our 35 award-winning wineries located within 20 minutes of downtown,” he said. “Thank you, UVa!”
Healey’s words are borne out by the reserved rooms in local lodging establishments.
Most hotels within 10 miles of Grounds report being sold out for the weekend, while a handful of others had one or two rooms still available as of Wednesday. Restaurant staffs say they expect to be busy during the weekend’s evening hours. Eateries focused more on breakfast and lunch say they expect plenty of open seats for locals interested in a quick meal.
“There are a lot catered events now at the university with tents being set up, and that has taken away a lot of the weekend business during the day,” said Aristea Vlavianos, owner of the Cavalier Diner on Emmet Street. “A lot of the ‘tablecloth’ restaurants will do very well after ceremonies and during the evenings, but not so much during the day.”
The celebrations start at noon Friday for graduates of the U.S. military’s Reserve Officer Training Corps and end Sunday with the academic procession and Final Exercises for 11 professional schools and programs.
Newly minted military officers in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force will gather in Old Cabell Hall’s auditorium on Friday for commissioning ceremonies. Thomas B. Modly, 33rd under secretary of the Navy, will address the candidates.
Students will say their farewells to university life at Valedictory Exercises at 3 p.m. Friday on the Lawn, with the John Paul Jones Arena standing by in case of rain. Pharrell Williams — a recording artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, author and entrepreneur — will speak.
At 6 p.m. Friday, the UVa Office of African-American Affairs is hosting the Donning of the Kente ceremony, a traditional African woven stole that honors students’ achievement, at Old Cabell Hall. Tickets are required.
Festivities for the day will be capped with a fourth-year student class party from 9 p.m. to midnight at Alumni Hall, for which tickets are required.
In Saturday’s 10 a.m. iconic celebration of the end of college life, the graduating class for the School of Arts and Sciences will line up around the Rotunda for its last official walk down the Lawn in front of thousands of parents, guests and faculty members.
They will sit with their backs to the Rotunda to symbolize their exit from university life during the two-hour celebration. The ticketed event will feature guest speaker Dr. Bryant Cameron Webb, a UVa alumnus, doctor and lawyer. In case of severe weather, the John Paul Jones Arena will host the event.
Also at 10 a.m. Saturday, the Curry School of Education and Human Development will host its doctoral student hooding ceremony at the Darden School’s Abbott Center.
After the Lawn ceremony, schools and departments will hold ceremonies at various locations around the university where graduates will be recognized on an individual basis.
For more information on the individual ceremonies, visit majorevents.virginia.edu/finals/saturday-ceremonies.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, the UVa School of Nursing will host its hooding ceremony at the Paramount Theater on the Downtown Mall. The school also will host a pinning ceremony for graduates at 4 p.m. at the theater.
At 5 p.m., the Frank D. Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will hold an academic regalia ceremony at James Monroe’s Highland, 2050 James Monroe Parkway, in Albemarle County.
The Lawn will host a procession and Final Exercises on Sunday, as well, with 10 a.m. ceremonies for the non-College schools and programs: the School of Architecture, Frank D. Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; School of Continuing & Professional Studies, Curry School of Education and Human Development, Darden School of Graduate Business Administration, Data Science Institute, School of Engineering & Applied Science, School of Law, McIntire School of Commerce, School of Medicine and School of Nursing.
Tickets are required for the ceremonies, and severe weather will move the event to the John Paul Jones Arena. Dorrie K. Fontaine, dean of the School of Nursing, will be the speaker.