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2020 Winter Commencement Instructions

Northwest  is committed to the health and safety of its graduates and guests. As part of its mitigation strategy to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Northwest is altering its previously announced plans for its winter commencement ceremonies. Please carefully read all of the information provided below and forward to your family and friends who will be in attendance for this special celebration.

Winter Commencement Exercises

As Northwest continues to monitor and evaluate its campus events during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is offering three options for graduates to participate in winter commencement. Graduates will be asked to select one option when they receive their cap and gown order form. Northwest will provide more information to graduates at a later date about ceremony times and dates.

  • Participate in a small, informal and condensed ceremony in late November in the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. Each ceremony will be limited to 50 graduates, with a maximum of two guests per graduate. Ceremonies will be live streamed online.
  • Participate in a larger, more formal ceremony in the spring. Seating may be limited. Ceremonies will be live streamed online.
  • Will not participate in a commencement ceremony and request that Northwest mail graduation items, (cap; tassel; diploma cover; honor cords, if eligible; hood for master's and specialist's degree candidates).

Cap and gown order form link will be sent to eligible graduates. If you do not receive this link, please contact the Registrar's office at

Tickets will be required for the ceremony, and you will be required to wear a face covering while attending the commencement ceremony. Wearing a face covering not only protects you; it protects your loved ones and individuals around you.

Cap and Gown

Graduates have three options to pick up their cap and gown.

  • Graduates may pick up their cap and gown between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16 through Thursday, Nov. 19, on the first floor of the Administration Building.
  • Graduates may make arrangements to pick up their cap and gown Monday, Nov. 16 through Thursday, Nov. 19, at Northwest-Kansas City in Gladstone by contacting Lindsay Stapley at  Lindsay Stapley must receive this request by Wednesday, Nov. 11th.  
  • Caps and gowns will be available for pickup at least one hour before your ceremony time. Location to be determined at a later date. 

Caps and gowns cannot be mailed.

You may have someone pick up your cap and gown for you, but they need to have your 919#.

Please iron gowns on the wrong side (inside out), or hang in the shower to reduce wrinkling. Ironing boards will be available at cap and gown pickup.

Honor cords

Graduates who are eligible for honor cords will receive them with their cap and gown order.

Honors are based on both a graduate’s current Northwest and cumulative grade-point averages. Honors for transcripts and diplomas are adjusted after final grades have been calculated. Honors are not awarded to master’s degree candidates.

  • Cum Laude: 3.5 – 3.74 (white)
  • Magna Cum Laude: 3.75 – 3.94 (green)
  • Summa Cum Laude: 3.95 – 4.0 (gold)

Graduates who believe they should have received honor cords and did not should contact the Registrar’s Office at 660.562.1151.

Mortar Boards (graduation caps)

The cap is yours to keep, and you are welcome to decorate your keepsake cap and show your Bearcat pride, creativity and style.

Make sure that you look inside the cap to determine which side is the front and decorate accordingly.

Rules for decorations:

  • No vulgar language
  • No inappropriate verbiage or pictures
  • Decorations cannot obstruct the view of those behind you
  • Any cap deemed inappropriate by the University Coordinator will be taken and you will be provided a new cap

Day of the Ceremony

Procedures Before the Ceremony

  • Pick up your cap and gown at the determined location, no later than 30 minutes prior to your commencement ceremony time. 
  • Look for the table that is alphabetically designated with the first letter of your last name to pick up your cap and gown.
  • When you're ready to be seated, ushers will usher you to your designated seat.
  • Cell phones should be silenced when you reach your seat.
  • Wear your face covering indoors at all times and outdoors when you cannot maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from others outside of your group.

Process for Receiving Your Degree

  • The provost will instruct you when to rise, according to your degree (bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, doctorate). Your row will be released by a commencement usher and you will be led to the stage while staying 6 feet apart. 
  • When you reach the top step, hand your reader’s card to the emcee, and proceed across the stage. 
  • Proceed to the provost, where you will receive your diploma cover and cross the stage
  • Look for a marking on the stage and stop there to have your photo taken by our professional photographers.
  • Continue across the stage and down the steps and continue to our Northwest backdrop where a professional photographer will take another photo for you.
  • After all candidates have returned to their seats, the president will confer degrees. At this point, graduates move their tassels is from the right to the left side of their cap (mortarboard).

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dr. J and Dr. Hooyman will exit the stage. At that time you are free to move as you wish. The left side doors will open and your family and friends may meet you in the lobby area. You must return your gown within 45 minutes of the conclusion of the ceremony.

Personal Belongings

Personal belongings placed on chairs or bleachers are your responsibility and Northwest is not liable if they go missing.

Name Cards

You should find a colored card in your cap and gown bag that has your full name printed on it. You must bring this to the ceremony with you. This will be used as you cross the stage to announce your name. If you prefer to leave part of your name out (for example, your middle name), cross it out on the card. If any part of your name needs to be changed on your card (for example, incorrect spelling, married name, etc.), be sure to make those corrections on the card before handing to the emcee.

Please also write your email and mailing address on this card for our photographers. They will use your email and mailing address to send your proof pictures.

Help with your name

If you have a name that is difficult to pronounce, write the phonetic spelling on the card. An assistant on the stage may ask you how to pronounce your name. We want to make every effort to get it right.

Gown Return

Your gown must be returned within 45 minutes of the conclusion of the ceremony.

After that time, the doors will be locked and you will have to mail your gown back to the University at your own expense.

Mail your gown to:

Kaley Coulter
800 University Drive
Maryville, MO 64468

General information for your guests

 On the day of the ceremony, guests will be ushered to their seat beginning one hour prior to your ceremony time. 

  • Face coverings are required 
  • Guests may bring an unopened bottle of water


All parking lots on campus will be open and available to guests. The circle drive in front of the Ron Houston of Performing Arts Center will be designated for ADA drop-off only. Please review a map with all campus parking lots.

Disabled Resources

Disabled resources are available, and we want to make sure our graduates and guests are safe and comfortable on this special occasion. Please review our accommodations at or the information below.

Elderly or mobility impaired guests may be unloaded at the circle drive west of the Ron Houston Performing Arts Center. Any parking in disabled parking spots must have a state disabled parking permit displayed. 

Access to Ceremony

The front entrances will be used for guests to enter. The front entrance is located on the west side of Ron Houston Performing Arts Center.

Choose a Location To Meet After the Ceremony

With so many guests attending, you should consider choosing a location for your family to meet after the ceremony. Weather permitting, you may want to meet your family for pictures by Colden Pond, the Hughes Fieldhouse, the Kissing Bridge, the Peace Pavilion or go over to the Hughes Fieldhouse.

Live WEBCAST of the Ceremony

Northwest will provide a live webcast of the commencement ceremony for guests who cannot  attend. If you or your guests are feeling ill or are uncomfortable with attending the ceremony, please  access the live webcast to view the ceremony.

To view the webcast, go to The footage from our audio/visual production company will be uploaded to the Northwest YouTube channel within a few weeks of the ceremony. Watch past ceremonies at:


For the safety of graduates exiting the stage, guests may not take photos in aisles.

Graduates will have three photos taken by professional photographers from Grad Images; one as you approach the stage, a second as you cross the stage, and a third directly off the stage while holding your diploma cover in front of a Northwest backdrop. Proofs will be emailed or mailed directly to you within one week, and you may order photos at your convenience.


Winter graduates should have been mailed their diploma within 6-8 weeks after the Dec. 11 conclusion of the fall semester. Diplomas will be mailed to the address provided on the application for degree that you submitted to the Registrar’s Office or Graduate Office. Any change in address should be reported to the Registrar’s Office. 

Diploma covers

As you walk across the stage, you will receive an empty diploma cover, which is yours to keep and preserve your diploma.

If you have questions pertaining to commencement, reply to this email. You also may find Northwest commencement information online.

Thank you, and congratulations!

Jordyn Greenhaw
University Event Coordinator