Widener University commencement celebration with students in caps and gowns

Widener University Commencement


A: 2020 graduates will celebrate commencement on Saturday, May 15, 2021 at The Mann Center. Ceremony time will be provided at a later date. 

A: Yes!  While there will be no physical gathering on the original date and time of commencement, the university will host a virtual Celebration of Graduates. More information on this celebration and how you can participate will be sent to your Widener email address from commencement@widener.edu no later than Friday, April 10, 2020. Be on the lookout!

A: The decision to postpone commencement was a difficult one that came after considering all available options. As the university continues to monitor the evolving circumstances and social restrictions caused by the Coronavirus, the goal of the Commencement Committee has been to find a solution that would allow graduates to participate in commencement safely and to the fullest degree possible. Given the rapid outbreak and development of the Coronavirus, we are all left with much uncertainty, particularly in regard to a timeline on when regular activities of daily living will resume. 

Current government and public health guidelines suggest that the peak of the pandemic is still to come for many cities and states, and, until a vaccine is readily available, our society may be faced with secondary waves of infection in the months to come. Based on this information, it is difficult to determine when large events and gatherings can safely be held this year. In addition, commencement welcomes graduates and guests from all over the world and we want to provide enough time for these individuals to safely plan to be back in Philadelphia.

After thoughtful and thorough deliberation among the Commencement Committee, university leaders, and student representatives, it was decided that the best way to provide graduates, guests, and faculty with a safe commencement, without the possibility of further postponement, would be to hold the ceremony in May 2021.

A: In the fall of 2018, Widener made the decision to move commencement off-campus to The Mann Center after listening to concerns from the campus community about the challenges of holding a rain-or-shine outdoor celebration at the university, with no suitable indoor space for backup. Since that move, The Mann Center has been an excellent partner that provides a wonderful facility equipped to meet the seating and accommodation needs for this important university event. 

A: Unfortunately, we are unable to refund the graduation petition fee, as this fee covers all expenses associated with your graduation, including diploma printing and shipping, program printing and mailing, transcript review, and more. Even under typical circumstances, all students are required to pay the fee regardless of ceremony participation.  

A: No. The 2020 graduates and 2021 graduates will celebrate commencement separately with their own ceremonies. Commencement is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication and we will ensure that each class has their own opportunity to celebrate their unique achievements.

A: Yes! While there will not be a physical commencement ceremony this spring, graduates are still required to complete the graduation checklist including a petition to graduate and Marching Order RSVP form. View all graduation checklist requirements below under Information for Graduates.

A: Yes! All degrees will be conferred on time for graduates who successfully meet academic requirements and petition for graduation by April 15, 2020. Degrees will be conferred as of May 16, 2020. 

A: While the university is closed under state-wide mandate, we are working toward a solution to produce and mail diplomas in a timely manner.* Diplomas will be mailed directly to graduates, to the address provided on the petition to graduate, as soon as we are able to do so. In the meantime, graduates are able to order an official electronic version of their transcript that reflects their graduation.  

*We are currently working toward a mid-July 2020 goal, but we thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as evolving circumstances may force us to alter our timeline. 

A: E-mail gradpetitions@widener.edu with updated mailing address information. Students will receive a response once their information is updated.

A: Transcripts can be ordered at www.getmytranscript.com. Please be sure to choose “hold for degree notation” when ordering your transcript if you would like your degree noted.  These transcript orders will be processed once degrees are conferred. Please note, at this time we are only able to process electronic transcript orders.  Transcripts with degrees notated will be available beginning June 1, 2020.

A: Yes! All graduates who successfully petition to graduate by April 15, 2020 and complete all degree requirements by the end of the Spring 2020 semester are able to update their education information to include that they are a May 2020 graduate of Widener University. 

A: Yes. While the university is closed under state-wide mandate, we are working toward a solution to produce and mail programs in a timely manner.* Programs will be mailed directly to graduates, to the address provided on the petition to graduate, as soon as we are able to do so. Additional printed copies will also be available at the ceremony next spring. In the meantime, a digital version of the program will be available here on or before May 16, 2020. 

*We are currently working toward a mid-July 2020 goal, but we thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as evolving circumstances may force us to alter our timeline. 

A: No. Guests who require special seating accommodations and who plan to attend the Class of 2020 commencement ceremony on May 15, 2021 will be asked to resubmit requests next year. An announcement will be sent next spring when the request portal reopens.

A: Yes. If you would like to purchase your 2020 regalia now ahead of next spring, please visit the Widener University Bookstore online. When selecting your regalia, please be sure to fill out the section labeled “DEGREE” with both your degree and area of study (i.e. – Bachelor of Science in Nursing).

Orders placed on or before Friday, May 22, 2020 will be shipped within 2 weeks.* Orders may still be placed any time after May 22, 2020, but will take up to 6 weeks to ship due to changes in inventory.  

Any additional questions about purchasing regalia, including custom regalia, can be directed to Dave Towne, Bookstore Manager, at dtowne@follett.com.

*Please note that every effort will be made to adhere to these shipping deadlines, but delays may occur given the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19.  

A: If you have already ordered your regalia, we encourage you to keep it as a memento and/or for the postponed ceremony in 2021. However, if you would prefer a full refund, please be sure the regalia remains unopened and unworn in its original packaging and follow the directions below:

To return regalia received from an online OR in-store purchase:

1. Return by mail:

Ship your unopened and unworn merchandise to: 

Widener University Bookstore
ATTN: Regalia Returns
1440 Providence Rd
Chester, PA 19013

We highly recommend using a trackable shipping method, such as UPS or FedEx. 

Be sure to include the original packing slip, along with your full name, email address, and phone number. 
Your refund will be issued to the original method of payment.  

Please be advised there may be a delay in the processing of your refund until the university bookstore is able to resume normal business operations (TBD). We thank you for your patience!

2: Return in-store

When the university bookstore is able to resume normal. 

To return regalia ordered online and not yet received:

If you ordered your regalia online, have not received it to-date, and would like to cancel the order before it is processed, please contact Dave Towne, Bookstore Manager, at dtowne@follett.com.

A: In keeping with current state and federal guidelines, all in-person events must be postponed, cancelled, or transitioned online. If you have a question about the status of a specific end-of-year/commencement-related event, please reach out directly to the corresponding program for more information.

April 22, 2020:
•    Student Leadership Awards - studentengagement@widener.edu

May 6, 2020:
•    Lavender Ceremony - mmdavis@widener.edu

May 7, 2020:
•    Senior Toast – alumnioffice@widener.edu

May 8, 2020:
•    MSA Rites of Passage Ceremony - mmdavis@widener.edu

May 11, 2020:
•    MSA Student Leadership Awards Reception - mmdavis@widener.edu

May 13, 2020:
•    ROTC Commissioning Ceremony – krkarbel@widener.edu
•    School of Nursing Graduation Reception – school.nursing@widener.edu

May 14, 2020:
•    School of Nursing Nightingale Ceremony – school.nursing@widener.edu

May 15, 2020:
•    Center for Human Sexuality Studies Reception – humansexuality@widener.edu
•    Center for Social Work Education Reception – social.work@widener.edu
•    College of Arts & Sciences Awards Ceremony – artsandsciences@widener.edu
•    School of Business Administration Beta Gamma Sigma Undergraduate Awards Ceremony – sbadeansoffice@widener.edu
•    School of Human Service Professions Doctoral Hooding – deanshsp@widener.edu
•    School of Nursing Doctoral Hooding – school.nursing@widener.edu
•    Under the Dome - studentengagement@widener.edu

Looking for information on an event that is not listed above? Email commencement@widener.edu for assistance.

A: Yes. Families and guests are encouraged to cancel all commencement-related travel or accommodation plans for May 16, 2020. 

A: Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the university has taken a number of steps to ensure the health and safety of the campus community and beyond. Please visit the university’s Coronavirus webpage for more information. 

Information for Graduates

All degree candidates must follow this graduation checklist:

1. Complete your online graduation petition. 

Once logged into Student Planning, click the Home icon on the top left side of the screen, then Graduation Overview, and select Apply for the program you are intending to complete. If you do not see your correct program, please contact Enrollment Services at 610-499-4161.

2. The deadline to fill out the online Marching Order RSVP has been extended to 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, 2020.           

You will receive an email from Marching Order no later than April 10, 2020 with a link to create an account using your @widener.edu email address and complete the RSVP form. The form includes helpful information for recording the pronunciation of your name.

3. Complete degree requirements. 

Contact your adviser or program director to verify completion of degree requirements.

4. Satisfy all financial and library obligations. 

Degree candidates who have balances due at the Bursar's Office or books due at the library must satisfy these obligations before they can receive diplomas.

5. Complete the loan exit interview.              

All students who borrowed a Federal Perkins and/or Federal Direct Student Loan while enrolled at Widener University must complete an online exit counseling session to review their rights and responsibilities. Information about how to access the online sessions will be sent by e-mail.


All candidates for graduation must wear proper academic regalia to participate in the commencement ceremony. Weather appropriate clothing should be worn underneath, along with comfortable shoes that can navigate the hills and stairs at The Mann Center.

Proper Fit of Regalia

Properly fitting graduation gowns should fall to mid-calf and be able to completely zip. Do not cut the sleeves of the gowns; they are to be worn as-is. Standard regalia does not require a fitting prior to purchase as size is determined by general weight and height. Custom regalia does require formal measurements to be taken, which the Main Campus Bookstore is pleased to offer (see below for “Custom Doctoral” under “Regalia Pricing and Descriptions.”) Mortarboards and tams are one size fits all.

Wearing Your Regalia

Properly fitting graduation gowns should fall to mid-calf and should be able to completely zip. Do not cut the sleeves of the gowns; they are supposed to be worn as they are. Mortarboards are one size fits all.

Bachelor and Associate
bachelor's regalia
Bachelor's Regalia

Bachelor's and associate's degree candidates wear a blue and gold gown, mortarboard, and tassel. Hoods are not part of bachelor and associate regalia.

master's regalia
Master's Regalia

Master's degree candidates wear a black gown, mortarboard, tassel and colored hood for their specific field.

doctoral regalia
Doctoral Regalia

Doctoral degree candidates wear a black gown, mortarboard or tam, and hood. 

Regalia Pricing

Pricing for regalia can be found on the Main Campus Bookstore website.

Previous Communications

Dear 2020 Graduates,

These last few weeks have brought many unexpected changes to all of our lives, and a lot of uncertainty. We are all wondering how long this new way of life will last, and what it means for future events. For many of you, commencement is a big question. We understand. 

Commencement is the happiest day of the year at Widener. It’s the celebration of your commitment reflected in hours at the library, preparation for exams, writing papers and coordinating projects. It’s about that moment – that walk across the stage, shaking President Wollman’s hand, and savoring those hard-earned accomplishments. It’s about having family present to share in that. 

You deserve a celebration. We want that for you. And you will get it.  

Widener University will honor all of the 2020 graduates with a commencement ceremony at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, May 15, 2021. The class of 2020 will have its own ceremony, separate from the class of 2021 commencement. Not only will it celebrate your academic accomplishments, it will celebrate your perseverance in completing your degrees under unprecedented circumstances. It will celebrate your resilience as a class that endured profound, unwelcome life changes, and came through them unified in the We’re-All-Widener spirit.

We recognize that it is disappointing not to have a ceremony this spring. We are disappointed, too. We purposely did not make a decision immediately so we could examine the current situation, and if necessary, examine all available options. With so much uncertainty about the next few months we could not in good faith plan to move ahead in May, this summer, or even this fall, knowing circumstances beyond our control might force us to cancel an event involving thousands of people. We recognize that this isn’t a perfect solution, and that it may not work for every graduate, but given these ever-changing circumstances, we think this is the best decision for you, our graduates, and everyone who wants to celebrate your success.

Graduates, we wanted a day you could count on, and plan for. We wanted a day without limits on guests, or hugs. We wanted a day you could celebrate shoulder-to-shoulder with your classmates and friends. You deserve that big moment where your names and degrees are announced, and your families erupt with joy. We want all of that for you. It’s coming…just later than any of us wanted. 

Surely, you’ll have questions. We can answer some of them now, and we are working on answers to the rest. We’ve updated the commencement website with a new FAQ section that should help. If you can’t find answers there, reply to this email and ask us that way. We will keep communicating with you as plans come together. 

In the meantime, we hope you all stay well, and ask you all to stay tuned. We promise not to let May 16, 2020 go by without recognizing you from a safe distance electronically, using the power of virtual connections to pause in celebration, and in anticipation for next year’s ceremony at the Mann. 

Thank you for your patience while we worked to reach this decision. Thank you, too, for your understanding as we look ahead to May 2021 when we will gather for a jubilant, unforgettable day. Your commencement and the way you have represented the Pride with dignity, grace and class will be one for Widener’s history books.   

Go Pride!

Katie Herschede and Amy Pecsi
Commencement Co-Chairs

Dear Members of the Widener Community,
The Coronavirus outbreak continues to present a number of challenges for colleges and universities across the country. In addition to suspending all face-to-face courses and converting to electronic course delivery through the remainder of the semester, almost all events have required cancellation, as well. To our graduating students, we know the fate of our biggest annual event, commencement, is weighing heavily on your minds; it’s weighing on ours, too.  
We want to be sure you are aware that we continue to monitor this situation very closely. While it is unlikely that we will be able to have our traditional commencement ceremony, we are continuing to evaluate the situation and will make a final decision in the coming weeks. Our decision will be made with guidance from local, state, and federal officials and public health experts and with everyone’s safety and well-being first and foremost.
Commencement is one of the most important events of the year and the culmination of years of hard work and dedicated study. With that in mind, it is our priority to share updates in a timely manner with each student via the Pomp. Circumstance. e-newsletter. Family and friends are also welcome to sign-up for the e-newsletter here.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.
The Widener University Commencement Committee

Your Guide to Widener University's Commencement Ceremony

Widener University looks forward to celebrating the 2020 Commencement with our graduates and their families.

Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020

Time: 10:00 a.m., doors open 8:30 a.m.

Place: The Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Ave., Philadelphia

Graduate and undergraduate students who are receiving degrees from August 2019, December 2019, and May 2020 will be honored.

What's Next?

→ Complete the online graduation checklist. 

→ Visit the university's commencement website to see important deadlines and helpful information for you and your guests.

→ Check your email for future commencement messages to ensure that you have all the information needed to celebrate with Pride! 

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Helpful Contacts

Widener Bookstore

For questions about your cap and gown or diploma and class picture frames, contact the bookstore.

Widener Bookstore