Graduates: What to Know about WPU’s Baccalaureate Service

February 15, 2023

Every year William Peace University (WPU) holds its baccalaureate service the Friday before Commencement at Holy Trinity Anglican Church. What exactly is this service, and how does it differ from Commencement? 

What is Baccalaureate? 

A baccalaureate service is a religious service that occurs at many private universities. 

The service traditionally begins with the procession of the degree candidates. The service itself is Christianity-based but is interdenominational and ecumenical. All graduates and families are invited to attend. 

Speakers selected to speak at this event tend to be community leaders, faculty members, students, or local religious leaders. In addition, the service may have campus community members participate in various roles. Typically, the service focuses on reflection, like a farewell message to graduates.

The Hooding Ceremony

WPU’s Baccalaureate service features a hooding ceremony, which is unique. A hood is a piece of the WPU academic regalia that includes a gown, cap, and tassel. At many institutions, the hood is part of master’s or higher level regalia, but WPU chose to have it as part of our undergraduate regalia.  

During the hooding ceremony, a friend or family member will put the hood on the graduate. Students are encouraged to ask someone to be their hooder — someone who has been particularly helpful in their education journey. 

“We find that graduates love asking someone in their life to be their hooder,” said Dawn Dillon, who helps coordinate Baccalaureate each year. “It’s a special moment both for the graduate and a way to honor someone special. The entire baccalaureate service is a memorable and inspirational part of our commencement weekend.” 

Faculty members participate in the service and do not individually hood students. 

The first bachelor of art graduates in 1996 selected the current regalia. WPU’s hooding ceremony started in 2008.

Changes in 2023 

This year, after the hooding ceremony, there will be a brief recess for those wishing to leave. The service will continue with an inspirational message from a university guest to the graduates and a musical performance by a WPU student. A reception will immediately follow the service.

Also, new this year, students must RSVP for Baccalaureate. Students may indicate whether they will attend the Hooding Ceremony only or the entire Baccalaureate service. RSVPs are due by April 28. 

This year the baccalaureate service will be held Friday, May 5, and Commencement Saturday, May 6.