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Commencement Information for Guests

Do guests need tickets for the ceremony? If so, how many tickets will each graduate receive?
No, given the capacity of the venue, there is not a need to issue tickets for guests or limit the number of guests each student may invite to the Commencement ceremonies.

Which Commencement ceremony will my graduate be participating in?
Two Commencement ceremonies will be held on Friday, May 22, 2015. A 9:30 AM ceremony will be held for Doctor of Physical Therapy, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine and Doctor of Nursing Practice program graduates. A 1:30 PM ceremony will be held for Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Accelerated BSN and BSN programs), Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Occupational Therapy, and Master Physician Assistant program graduates.

Are there special arrangements at The Paramount Theatre for guests in wheelchairs or with mobility limitations?
Please ask the graduate to contact Veronica Paniagua in the Office of Academic Affairs (vpaniagua@samuelmerritt.edu or 510-869-6744) at least one week prior to Commencement to make arrangements for special seating in the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) section of the venue for guests with disabilities/mobility limitations. Please note that seating in the ADA section of the theatre is limited and your entire party may not be able to sit there. The guest needing the ADA access will be permitted to have one other member of their party sit with them in the ADA section.

Where do I find directions to and/or parking information for The Paramount Theatre?
Please click here for directions and parking information on The Paramount Theatre's website.

How long will the ceremony last?
The Doctoral ceremony (9:30 AM) will last approximately an hour and a half to two hours. The Masters and Baccalaureate ceremony (1:30 PM) will last two to two and a half hours.

Does The Paramount allow guests to bring balloons for the graduates?
No, The Paramount does not allow balloons inside the theatre. Please click here for a brochure detailing The Paramount's graduation guidelines .

Can you provide me with a list of hotels are in the area?
Please click here to view a list of accommodations in Oakland on the Oakland Convention and Visitors Bureau website. There are also several hotels in the nearby city of Emeryville including a Courtyard by Marriott, Four Points by Sheraton, HYATT house , and a Hilton Garden Inn.
If you are interested in staying in the city of Berkeley, please click here to view a list of accommodations on the Berkeley Convention and Visitors Bureau website.
Since Commencement will be held on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend, we recommend that family and friends make their travel plans well in advance.

Will there be any kind of reception for graduates and their guests following Commencement?
Due to space and time limitations, the University does not sponsor a reception at the Theatre following Commencement. However, individual academic programs often organize their own reception or party at other venues to celebrate graduation. Please ask your graduate if their program is planning to host a reception.

Will there be a professional photographer at Commencement?
Yes. During the ceremony, graduates will be photographed in their regalia while being hooded and/or shaking hands with the President. The photographer will also take informal pictures of the graduates outside the Theatre before and after the ceremony. Prior to Commencement the photographer will contact the graduates directly with information on how to view proofs and order pictures.

Where can I meet up with my graduate before or after the ceremony to take pictures, etc.?
We request that family and friends wait until after the ceremony is over to meet up with their graduate to take pictures, give them flowers, etc. since prior to the ceremony students will be busy donning their regalia, listening to important instructions about the academic procession, and lining up. After the ceremony graduates will exit the Theatre on 21st Street where you can meet up with them. Please do not give your graduate any items such as flowers or balloons prior to the ceremony as they will not be allowed to carry them in to the theatre. (Flower leis are OK.)