2017 Fall University Commencement Ceremony

The Fall 2017 University Commencement Ceremony will be held on Friday, December 15th at Minges Coliseum at 10:00a.m.  Please monitor the University Commencement Site ( or the main ECU website ( for announcements concerning modification or cancellation of the event because of severe weather.  


Accessible Entrance and SeatingDrivers may also drop off guests with limited mobility at an accessible entrance before finding parking around Minges Coliseum. Elevators are located at Gates 1, 2 and between 3 & 4 with seating available on the upper level that does not require stairs.   It is advised guests arrive by 9:00am to ensure this seating. Guests and graduates who have questions should contact the Disability Support Services office at 252-737-1016 or


University Commencement Ceremony: Tickets are not required for the University Commencement Ceremony at Minges Coliseum.  Seating is General Admission. The ceremony will begin promptly at 10am and conclude by no later than 11:30am.Parking is available in all lots surrounding the Athletics Complex.  Guests with valid state-issued handicapped permits or plates requiring accessible parking should park in the GOLD lot next to Minges Coliseum. These parking spaces are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.  An arrival time of at least 45 minutes prior to the ceremony is recommended. There will be ADA Shuttles available in the GOLD parking lot that take passengers to the entrance.

School/College Recognition Events: Tickets may be needed for the unit recognition events. Have your student contact their school, college, or department for more information.  Contact information for departments is list at:

With the loss of parking spaces south of Mendenhall Student Center and Joyner Library, parking will be limited on the main campus. The two parking maps listed below present the parking options in an easy to follow format for the East and West ends of campus. One must only find their unit ceremony venue and then locate the highlighted "Ceremony Parking." Not all parking options will be located directly outside the door to your particular venue, but the University has reviewed past iterations and parking trends in these areas and it will be much more efficient for guests to be directed to a location where we know there will be an available parking spot.  There will be Parking Control Officers stationed at key locations on campus to direct attendees to the proper locations and to give directions to individual ceremonies.

East End of Campus Parking Locations

West End of Campus Parking Locations

A Brief History of East Carolina Commencements

By Arthur Carlson, University Archivist

East Carolina Teachers Training School organized its first commencement in May 1910 to recognize the first students to complete the one-year rural teacher education program.  The following spring, thirteen students completed the regular two-year program, qualifying them to teach in any North Carolina school.  Among the graduates was Pattie Simmons Dowell, the first student to enroll at East Carolina in the fall of 1909.  She was also the first East Carolina student to earn a PhD and the first recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award.

1913 CommencementBy 1913, commencement activities had evolved into a four day affair that included music recitals, theatrical performances, religious sermons, and an alumni banquet before culminating with graduation exercises.  Wearing formal white dresses, students began the graduation processional in the Girls Dormitory (later Wilson Hall) before parading along Fifth Street to the administrative building, Old Austin.  Old Austin and Wilson Hall were razed in 1968, but the distinctive cupola that capped Old Austin lives on via a larger than scale replica adorning the Campus Mall.

In 1932, the senior class helped dedicate the original fountain by staging a Class Day1932 Commencement pageant titled “The Fountain of All the Muses.” The performance concluded with the filling of the pool by graduates acting as modern-day muses.  The water represented the curriculums of East Carolina Teachers College:  Music, Art, Literature, Culture, History, Science, Mathematics, Government, and Business.  The fountain became a mainstay of commencement ceremonies for the decades that followed. For years, the student processional would begin in the Flanagan Building, diverge around the fountain, and enter College Stadium.  During World War II, East Carolina added a new tradition, as graduates and attendees joined together to sing East Carolina’s Alma Mater composed by Harold MacDougle ’44.  The original fountain was replaced during the Centennial celebrations and was rededicated as the Trustees Fountain.

1954 Commencement

With the opening of Ficklen Stadium in 1963, commencement ceremonies moved south, where they take place to this day in the expanded Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Many of the traditions established in 1910 are still a part of East Carolina’s graduation ceremony, including the use of marshals, a speech by a member of the graduating class, and the featuring of a prominent invited speaker.  In 1979, a new tradition was added with the inclusion of the Trustees Mace. Created from gold, silver, and purple fluorite crystal, the mace is carried by a distinguished faculty member who leads the graduation processional.

In 2007, East Carolina commencements received an injection of color as those earning bachelor degrees wore purple robes for the first time.  Masters and Doctoral graduates continued donning black robes with discipline-specific colored hoods.  In 2011, commencement attendees witnessed the beginning of a new tradition, as East Carolina’s Golden Alumni joined the graduation processional adorned in gold robes to celebrate the fifty-year anniversary of their first journey across the stage as the Pirates following them.