Caroline Kennedy leads off Commencement celebrations to honor Class of 2020

The Vanderbilt Class of 2020 is being honored in a special weekend of Commencement celebrations. All activities will observe campus health and safety protocols. Here’s what you need to know to guide you through the weekend.

Graduates Day featuring Caroline Kennedy

Friday, April 30, 11 a.m. CT

Caroline Kennedy, Vanderbilt's Class of 2020 Graduates Day speaker
Caroline Kennedy, Vanderbilt’s Class of 2020 Graduates Day speaker

Bestselling author, attorney and former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy will deliver the virtual Graduates Day address to the Vanderbilt Class of 2020. The virtual event is open to the public, but registration is required.

Register here to attend the virtual event.

Kennedy will receive Vanderbilt University’s prestigious Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal, one of the university’s highest honors, which is given to individuals who define the 21st century and exemplify the best qualities of the human spirit. It was created and endowed by Vanderbilt Law School graduate Ed Nichols and his wife, Janice, in honor of Edward Carmack and Lucile Hamby Nichols.

2020 Commencement

Saturday, May 1, 9 a.m. CT – Undergraduate ceremony  

The undergraduate Class of 2020 will be honored with an in-person and virtual Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 1, at Vanderbilt Stadium. Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente, who served as interim chancellor when the Class of 2020 had their degrees conferred virtually last year, will lead the event and will address the graduates.

Tune in for exciting pre-show programming featuring some of your favorite VU community members at 7:30 a.m. CT before the main ceremony begins. Class of 2020 graduate and professional students are also invited to watch the program and the online ceremony.

In-person attendance at the ceremony is reserved for undergraduate graduates and two guests per graduate. All guests are required to have pre-reserved tickets, and all tickets have been claimed. The ceremony also will be livestreamed on the Vanderbilt homepage for those unable to attend.

Watch the virtual ceremony here.

For the in-person ceremony at Vanderbilt Stadium:

  • Tickets are required for the two guests of each attendee.
  • All attendees, including members of the Class of 2020, their guests and event staff, must abide by campus health and safety protocols.
  • Physically distanced seating, except for two-person guest pods, will be used at all events. All seats are pre-assigned.
  • All graduates and guests must abide by the university’s clear bag policy. Lockers will be provided at each ceremony location. If guests forget to bring a clear bag, they can check their bag at one of the on-site lockers free of charge.

Sunday, May 2 – Graduate and professional student ceremonies

Graduate and professional students in the Class of 2020 will be honored with separate ceremonies held by their respective schools across campus on Sunday, May 2. Those ceremonies also will be available virtually for those unable to attend.

Find more information on the specific ceremonies and tent locations here.


For visitors coming to campus, find information on guest parking.

Volunteer for Commencement ceremonies

To help make the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 Commencement ceremonies a success for graduates and their families, the university needs staff and faculty volunteers. Volunteers have various opportunities to participate on Saturday, May 1, and Sunday, May 2. Additionally, volunteers are needed during the Class of 2021 ceremonies on May 15-16.

Sign up to volunteer.  

Find all of the latest information on celebrations for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 on the Vanderbilt Commencement webpage.

Additional information about the Class of 2020