Everything you need to know about the upcoming Graduation day.

Graduation Events

For GradFest information click here.

Friday, May 5

9a.m. - Graduation Practice - Iles P.E. Center
      For those unable to attend practice, please view the instructions here.
6p.m. - School of Social Work Pinning Program - Iles P.E. Center
6p.m. - School of Business Commissioning and Honors Induction Ceremony - Thatcher Hall Chapel
8p.m. - Senior Dedication Vespers - University Church 

Saturday, May 6
4p.m. - School of Education and Psychology Dedication - University Church
7p.m. - School of Nursing Dedication - Iles P.E. Center

Sunday, May 7
9a.m. - Commencement Service - Iles P.E. Center 
1p.m. - Commencement Service - Iles P.E. Center

There will be at least two full-capacity commencement services.  Graduates will be able to register and choose their preferred service at the graduation registration portal, which will go live around hopefully by March 29-31, 2023.  Please note when the registration asks for the graduation date, it only needs the four-digit year. Otherwise, the registration will not go through. If a graduate wishes to participate in the same program as specific friends, they will need to coordinate and register for the same program.

Each graduate will be able to reserve up to eight tickets for guests at the time of registration. Please note that all guests will need a ticket, with the exception of babies under the age of 1. E-tickets will be used, and those e-tickets will be sent out 24 hours before the event and again three hours prior to your event. Graduates wishing to request extra seating may do so by emailing and requesting up to 8 additional tickets. There will also a line for "un-ticketed" guests at the far left doors of the gym lobby. Guests without tickets will be granted entry through that door until all seats are full.

We look forward to celebrating this important occasion with you, and we hope that holding it on campus will only add to the good memories you will have of Southern. You can download a copy of the May 2022 graduation program by clicking here. The May 2023 program will be available online a couple weeks prior to the actual service. 

Doors for each commencement service will open one hour prior to the event’s scheduled start time.

Detailed instructions for the graduation services will be emailed to graduates about two weeks prior to May 7, and those details are also listed below on this page. Graduation Practice will happen on Friday, May 5, at 9am in Iles P.E. Center.

Helium balloons are not allowed inside the gym, because if one is accidentally released, it could set off the alarms in the gym, requiring evacuation of the facility. If balloons are brought in, they will need to be left at the florist's tables and picked up after the service. It is recommended, however, that balloons be left in vehicles to be received after the event.

Be sure to purchase your regalia (gown, cap, hood, tassel) no later than April 7.

Our new provider link for you to visit and order your regalia is: The deadline for ordering regalia is April 7. You will not be able to order regalia after that deadline. Regalia consists of the cap, gown, tassel, and hood, ALL of which are required in order to march at commencement. Undergraduates will wear their tassels on the right, Graduate students wear tassels on the left.

Since this event is a celebration of your academic achievements, you are not allowed to march with items beyond those provided by the university. If your guests have flowers or wreaths for you, please be sure they give them to you after the service. It can be challenging carrying out the items given to you during commencement without adding these extras to your load. Please also note that Southern’s official dress code still applies.

In an effort to provide security and safety in the graduate line-up area, we are asking all graduates to please bring a form of photo ID (either Southern ID or Driver’s License) with you, in order to enter the line-up area in the Hulsey Wellness Center. You may want to arrive a little earlier, in case this causes some delay. For those who may not have pockets in which to carry your ID, a lanyard will be provided at the check-in table just inside the doors for your use. Note: this lanyard is only large enough for your ID, and NOT large enough for a phone.

For any who may arrive late, thus missing the processional, please see the usher, who will be stationed at the far left side of the graduate and faculty seating area, to help you past the barriers and to your seat. You will need to show your ID so that you can be checked in. Thank you for your understanding and patience during this entry process.

Those eligible to receive honor cords should pick them up in the Records Office during test week.

In our pursuit of a commencement service that is honorable, respects all graduates equally, and protects guests with sensitive ears or who wear hearing aids, we ask that there be no use of noise makers or mess-making devices including but not limited to: air horns, silly string, poppers, etc. These items will be respectfully confiscated if found and may be returned after the ceremony. Thank you for abiding by this policy and making family and friends aware of this restriction to ensure a smooth, pain-free service for everyone.

Parking will be available in the side lots next to the Iles P.E. Center, as well as in the church parking lots and other lots in the area.

You will be given a 5x7-inch photograph of you standing with Dr. Shaw with your diploma. A few days or weeks after graduation, you should receive your print in the mail. You may pre-register your email address to receive a message letting you know when you may view additional photos taken of you at graduation and to receive a $5-off coupon for your order. Go to to register. If you receive the wrong photo, or don't receive your photo at all, please contact their customer service department at (800) 261-2576 or email them at

Click here to view graduation live.  Note, this link is only active the day of the event. This is also the same link from which you can access recordings of previous events.

A discounted rate has been arranged at the some of the hotels in Ooltewah. You can see the local hotels listed with which Southern has agreements at

If you have received a federal loan, government regulations require that you complete an exit interview. Before graduation, go to for instructions on completing the exit interview or call Student Finance at 423.236.2535.

Floral tributes will be available for purchase in the Iles P.E. Center lobby through BLLUUM. To place an order and for custom requests, call 423.541.6767 or email

Congratulations to our graduates! We hope to see you in May!

Detailed Graduate Instructions and PowerPoint Instructions Below
Graduate Instructions Sunday, May 7, 2022, at the Iles P.E. Center on the campus of Southern Adventist University.

The big event is almost here! Congratulations again on your academic achievement. We want this event to be as organized & safe for you (and your family and friends) as possible, so please thoroughly read through all of the following information.

Before You Arrive

  • Take the gown (regalia) out of packaging and steam it if necessary (NEVER iron your regalia, as it will melt).
  • Determine where you will meet your family and guests after the program. (A designated vehicle would be best). Please do not gather in front of or immediately to the side of the gym, in order to allow everyone to be able to exit safely.

Lining Up

  • Please plan to arrive approximately 40 minutes prior to the start of your program. For Sunday, May 7: first service, arrive by 8:00 a.m.; second service, arrive by 12:00 p.m.
  • BEFORE you enter the lobby, make sure to give any personal items to your family. You will NOT be able to re-enter the line-up area after your program. It will be best if you are already wearing your regalia as you come to the doors. If you have hangers or any of the plastic bags that your regalia arrived in, please throw them away or give them to your family before you enter.
  • Be sure you have photo ID (driver’s license or Southern ID) in order to enter the Wellness Center. The line-up area is in the hall of the Wellness Center, starting from the stairs to the gym, continuing between the pools and exercise room, and down the hall toward the Gym-Masters gym. Only graduates and faculty are allowed to enter the Wellness Center. There will be labels on the floor to assist with line-up spacing and order. Graduation staff will be on hand to help you find your place in the line-up. Please be sure to maintain appropriate physical distancing while waiting to receive assistance with regalia and while waiting to march.
  • In the HWC lobby, there will be two tables: 1) a Records table with honor cords for Associate and Bachelor’s graduates, and 2) a table for our Advancement Department where each graduate can pick up a zipper pull medallion, if they meet the requirements for one.
  • Lanyard pouches (to be worn underneath regalia) will also be available for those who don’t have pockets for their IDs. Note: these are NOT large enough to hold a phone.
  • The person whose name appears first on each row list posted in the line-up hallway will be the row leader and is responsible for making sure his/her row is lined up correctly. Note carefully which side you are on so you remember to turn that direction at the appropriate place. Graduation staff will be present to provide you with your specific information. 
  • Remember you may not add any “extras” to your regalia, including flowers, leis, decorated caps, etc. Tell your family to give these to you after the service.

Marching In

  • The platform party goes first, then faculty, then graduates.
  • When the first row gets to the door into the auditorium, the graduates will wait until the Grand Marshal (Dr. Rachel Williams-Smith) walks back with the mace to lead in the graduates.
  • All graduates will follow Dr. Williams-Smith single file.
  • Graduate names are on programs on your chairs. Be sure you are sitting in the chair that has your name on the program. If you are not sitting at your name, MOVE to the correct spot. The name card on your program is for you to pull off and take with you to the stage at the appropriate time.

Conferring of Degrees

Students will stand up one row at a time—beginning with the front row. Students will then walk out to the left of the seating area. There will be four stopping points on the way to the stage—one at the table to pick up your diploma cover and check to be sure you have your name card, one at the bottom of the stairs, one at the middle point of the stairs, and one at the top of the stairs. At the top step, hand your card to the announcer. As soon as your name is called, walk across the stage to where you will have your picture taken with our president, Dr. Ken Shaw. There will be “feet” marked on the floor indicating where you will stop, and face the direction they indicate, while holding your diploma cover between you and the president. Pause briefly in that spot for the picture, then continue across the stage and down the stairs. 

After this brief pause for the photo, you will finish crossing the stage and go down the stairs. There will be a second photo station with a backdrop. Please pause for the photographer to take this second picture, then replace your mask, go back to your seat, and be seated.

Sometime within a few weeks after graduation, you will receive a complimentary copy of the photograph taken at the first location with the president. You will be able to order more copies from either station from gradimages if you wish, but it is not required. If you receive the wrong photo, or do not receive your photo at all, you may contact their customer service department at (800) 261-2576, online at, or via email to


  • The Grand Marshal will stand and pick up the mace.
  • The platform party will leave first.
  • The faculty will follow immediately behind the platform party.
  • The graduates will follow faculty, leaving from back row to front row. Two faculty assistants will dismiss you by row. Walk toward the back of the gym, straight out through the lobby, and go to a location that you should pre-arrange with your family beforehand.
  • Do not stop or try to turn around to go back inside. It is recommended that you go directly to meet your family at one of your vehicles in order to allow everyone to exit safely.

There will be a graduation practice on May 5, at 9am in the Iles P.E. Center.