Big Planning for 3 Big Commencements

UC Davis Health Stadium, interior, showing field and emtty stands.
Undergraduates will fill the field three days in a row, June 12, 13 and 14, as UC Davis Health Stadium hosts its first commencements.

UC Davis loves a good plan, and no plan will be more thorough and polished than our plan for undergraduate commencement in June, when we are consolidating seven ceremonies into three of up to 2,500 students each.

Representatives of campus administration and academic units have been meeting since July to prepare for the large, outdoor commencements (in UC Davis Health Stadium), a switch from individual college ceremonies in the Pavilion at the ARC.


  • WHAT: Undergraduate commencements, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 12, 13 and 14.
  • WHERE: UC Davis Health Stadium (ceremonies), The Pavilion at the ARC (overflow and for people wishing to be inside) and Hutchison Field (college meet-ups).
  • TIME: The stadium will open at 6 a.m. each day, and commencement will be from 8 to 10:30 a.m.

Graduate and professional school commencements will proceed as they have in past years: individual ceremonies, May 16-June 11.

Commencement website
(including the complete calendar)

As with all many UC Davis plans, this one too relies on participation and support of staff, faculty and students — and the campus community is rising to the occasion. “People want to help,” said Whitney Smith, director of Ceremonies and Special Events. Soon her office will put out a call for volunteers, for ushering and other duties; look for planning updates at

The campus community also is being asked to put out the welcome mat for the thousands of visitors coming to campus for commencement.

An undertaking like this will be especially tricky on Friday, June 12, a regular workday when staff and faculty and up to 10,000 commencement guests (four per graduate) will be vying for parking spaces in the morning.

We have a plan for that! And for transportation all three days between parking lots and the stadium. And for overflow seating (in The Pavilion) and safety and security, communications, janitorial service and trash pickup, and lots more.

Finance, Operations and Administration has assembled the largest planning team, comprising representatives from FOA’s Facilities Management, Campus Planning and Environmental Services, Transportation Services, Police and Fire departments, and Safety Services (including Emergency Management and Mission Continuity, and fire marshal).

Other planning teams comprise college deans and college commencement coordinators, and Information and Technology Management. A speakers team gathered nominations from the campus community and settled on this line-up of three alumni:

  • June 12 — Nadine Burke Harris, surgeon general of California, the first to hold this position
  • June 13 — Francisco Rodriguez, chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District
  • June 14 — Tracy Caldwell Dyson, NASA astronaut

Read more about the speakers.

Transportation and parking


Transportation and parking information, though not yet final, is presented here to give an idea of current thinking — and to keep faculty and staff informed of the parking situation they may encounter Friday, June 12.

  • Commencement guests will be directed to the Gateway Parking Structure (south entry) and other parking lots in the campus’s southwest quadrant, primarily Lots 1 and 2 (adjacent to the Gateway garage), Lot 30 (Rec Pool), Lot 47 (Tercero Residence Area), and Lots 53 and 57 (Health Sciences District).
  • Unitrans will run continuous service on a loop between the garage and the stadium.
  • Accessible parking will be provided in Lot 56 immediately south of the stadium.

Staff and faculty who normally park in those lots will be asked to work from home that Friday. And, if you decide to come to campus, you’ll be asked to park in a different place, say:

  • Lots 5, 5A and 10 (Old Davis Road near downtown Davis)
  • Lots 40 and 41 (Hutchison Drive and La Rue Road)
  • Quad Parking Structure and other parking lots in the north campus

If those lots are full, alternative parking will be available in UC Davis West Village, with dedicated Unitrans service to take you to and from campus.

The Pavilion Parking Structure and Lot 25 in front of the Activities and Recreation Center will be reserved for guests who will watch commencement from inside The Pavilion, including people who don’t have tickets to the commencement and others who have mobility issues or wish to watch from the comfort of an air-conditioned building.

Transportation Services, or TAPS, also is assembling information on the following topics:

  • Public transportation — Including Unitrans, Amtrak, Yolobus and Causeway Connection
  • Lyft and Uber arrivals
  • Bicycle parking and valet

Complete transportation and parking information, when final, will be posted to the UC Davis Commencement website.

Map of stadium and seating for commencement
Pointing out the commencement set-up, with the stage on the right, at the south end of the stadium.


If you’re bringing a bag into the stadium, it must conform to these rules:

  • Clear bag — 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches.
  • Plastic freezer bag — 1 gallon.
  • Clutch — With shoulder strap or wrist strap; clutches can be no larger than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches.

Clear bags, of course, will permit quick inspection for prohibited items such as cans and glass containers; alcoholic beverages; artificial noisemakers and musical instruments; weapons; umbrellas; and hard, reusable water bottles. Also prohibited: chairs, coolers, bicycles, skateboards and scooters, animals (except service animals) and large signs.

Permitted items include sealed plastic bottles (20 ounces or less) and empty, soft-sided reusable water bottles (20 ounces or less).

Read more about stadium security, including lists of permitted and prohibited items.


The campus fire marshal must sign off on all plans regarding seating, capacity, ingress and egress, for the stadium and The Pavilion.

Facilities Management

The units that maintain the campus will be out in force, taking care of janitorial service and trash pickup and other facilities needs that may arise.

Before and after

The stadium will open at 6 a.m. for graduates (who will sit on the field) and guests (who will be divided between the stadium’s regular seats and additional seating on the field). Entertainment and social media displays are being devised for pre-commencement.

At the end of each commencement, the UC Davis Marching Band will lead the graduates in a procession from the stadium to Hutchison Field across the street, for college meet-ups. Each college will have a tent where graduates can celebrate together, and with faculty members and staff.

Campus officials are meeting this week with Davis city officials and the Chamber of Commerce to discuss their plans for post-commencement, given that the downtown and its businesses are likely to see an influx of visitors.

The set-up

The stage will be at the south end of the field, below the scoreboard. Students will enter via the stadium tunnel and will be seated according to their college. Each ceremony will include students from all four undergraduate colleges, and each day’s graduates will come from specified majors as listed in the following calendar entries:

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