Ceremony details

  • Date and Time: CANCELLED due to the continuing public health threat of Covid-19. We are working on an alternate plan. Please check back for updates.
  • Location: Greek Theatre

Keynote Speaker   

The speaker for the Spring 2020 Political Science Commencement Ceremony is Professor George Breslauer.

George Breslauer has been a member of the Political Science faculty since 1971.  A specialist on politics in the USSR and post-Soviet Russia, he has authored or edited twelve books on the subject and recently completed writing a thirteenth book entitled "The Rise and Demise of World Communism."  Professor Breslauer won a distinguished teaching award in 1997 and was appointed to a "Chancellor's Professorship" in 1998.  He has served UC Berkeley as Chair of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies, Chair of the Department of Political Science, Dean of the Social Sciences, Executive Dean of the College of Letters and Science and, from 2006-2014, as Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of the campus.  In 2014 he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  In 2015 he received UC Berkeley's Clark Kerr Award for Leadership in Higher Education.  

Departmental Citation   

Political Science is pleased to announce Varsha Sarveshwar as the 2020 recipient of the Departmental Citation. The Departmental Citation is an award honoring an outstanding graduating Political Science undergraduate.  

Varsha Sarveshwar is a graduating senior majoring in political science and minoring in history and public policy. She serves as the External Affairs Vice President of the Associated Students of the University of California (UC Berkeley's student association) as well as President of the University of California Student Association, making her the representative of roughly 275,000 students. After graduation, Varsha will work as a summer fellow at Education Trust-West and spend the 2020-21 year at a government agency or    nonprofit as a John Gardner Public Service Fellow.

Political Science would also like to acknowledge Nicolas Friedlich and Jack Sadler as finalists for the Departmental Citation. We are proud of you and excited for all 2020 graduates!

Information for Graduating Students

A couple of important reminders

Gates will open at 6:00PM. Enter from the South Gate of the Greek Theatre.

The pavement at the Greek Theatre is uneven and sloped.  We have seen our share of students stumble. Wear sensible shoes (i.e., no 3-inch heels, flip flops).  Bring as few belongings with you as you need, as there's no place to safely store items backstage.  Also, keep an eye on the weather.  The Greek Theatre is an outdoor venue.  It could be chilly or exceedingly warm.  If it's an especially warm day, please bring water (stay hydrated) and wear sunscreen/ sunglasses.  Lastly, only graduating students and faculty are allowed backstage at any time.  Your family and friends will have a near-impossible time connecting with you once inside (receiving tickets, giving flowers).  Please decide on a rendezvous point with friends and family outside the Greek Theatre for before/after the ceremony. 

Lining up

At 6:30PM all participating students must be backstage and ready to start the procession.

Look for a table in the backstage area with index cards and pencils, legibly write your name on a card, and hold onto it. The announcer will read your name from this card as you cross the stage to receive your scroll. If you have any concerns about the pronunciation of your name, write your name the way it sounds (i.e. writing oski as os-kee). Consider including a rhyming word (i.e. rhymes with goatee). You can also say your name to the announcer. The cards are provided by GradImages, so you can order photographs by either filling out the back (or going on-line in advance to gradimages.com (external link) - click "Pre-Event Registration", type in "Berkeley", and click "University of CA Berkeley Political Science").

Line up single-file behind the barricade at the north end of the backstage area (look for signs posted on the wall). The faculty and Ph.Ds will proceed onto the north end of the stage first, so please allow plenty of space for them to gather.


At 7:00PM SHARP, "Pomp and Circumstance" will start and you will begin your procession from behind the stage to your seat - faculty first, followed by Ph.D.s, then Honors, and finally B.A.s. Faculty and Ph.D. candidates will be seated on the stage. All B.A.s will go down a ramp to the main seating area, where Suzanne will direct you to your seat. If you are late and miss the procession you can either join the graduates in the last seats or wait in the wings until the awarding of the degrees at the end of the ceremony. The walk from the stage to the seats and back involves a steep ramp with uneven pavement and a step off a ledge and over a grate, so please wear sensible shoes if you can and step carefully.

The Ceremony

There will be a series of speeches and award announcements, and then the conferral of degrees starting with Ph.D.s and then the B.A.s.

Ph.D.s: Arrive in your cap and gown but hold onto your hood. Stay in your seat until your name is called, then move to the center of the stage, meet your thesis advisor and give him or her your hood. Turn to face the audience while your advisor places your hood over your head from behind. Walk over to Professor Ansell to receive your ceremonial scroll — your photo will be taken at this point — and then follow the photographer's instructions about how to proceed back to your chair. Once you return to your seat onstage, attach your hood to the button at the neck of your gown.

B.A.s: After the Ph.D.s are awarded, students in the front row should watch for the signal from Suzanne to rise and approach the stage. Efrat will separate and guide you into two lines on stage, and direct you to one of two announcers. Walk up to your "designated" announcer, hand him the card with your name on it, and cross the stage to meet Professor Ansell. The photographer will take your picture as you accept your scroll from Professor Ansell and later as you leave the stage. Pace yourself and stay at least 15 feet behind the previous student, so the photographer has a clear shot of you. Proceed in the same direction to leave the stage and return to your seat. Finally, Professor Ansell will grant the degrees and invite the graduates to participate in the traditional "moving of the tassle" on their mortar boards from right to left.


Information for Guests

Enter through the NORTH Gate (external link) of the Greek Theatre. NOTE: All graduating students must enter the Greek Theatre through the (alternate) South Gate.

Signs and balloons are Not Allowed inside the Greek Theater for Commencement

Gates will open at 6:00PM. The ceremony generally lasts about 2 hours, and the reception 1 hour. There is no comfortable place to sit out of the sun (or rain) so guests are discouraged from arriving too early. The Greek is a large ampitheater with plenty of seating, so getting a seat won't be a problem.

Tickets will be available for purchase starting in April.  Tickets will also be available for purchase on Commencement Day (cash only) at the North Gate of the Greek Theatre only (the entrance closest to Hearst Avenue).

UCPD has mandated that there will be bag searches at all Greek Theatre commencements.  Please travel lightly, leaving unnecessary backpacks, etcs at home or in car trunks.  In addition, Cal Performances has issued a list of prohibited items. 

Signs and balloons are NOT allowed inside the Greek Theatre for Commencement.

In addition, these items are also NOT allowed at the Greek:  umbrellas, large bags or backpacks, alcohol, glass bottles/ aluminum cans, coolers/ ice chests, skateboards/ scooters/ bicycles,  noise-makers/ airhorns, musical instruments, toilet paper, fireworks, any items that can be remotely perceived as weapons, banners/ flags, lawn furniture/ chairs, tripods for cameras, strollers and balloons (must park/ tie off at entrance guests), and animals unless for documented service. 

Restrooms are located at both ends of the ampitheater. A wheelchair-accessible restroom is located inside the north entrance. A registered nurse is on duty backstage near the north entrance. Food and bottled water will be sold by Cal Performances inside the north entrance. Commencement Flowers will be stationed outside the north entrance.

Reminder: Only graduating students and faculty are allowed backstage or onstage at any time!