See full schedule of  Commencement events at

Check back for photo gallery.

Fresno State’s 105th Commencement season is underway with 30 events planned and several new, historic components highlighted by the main ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at the Save Mart Center. Doors open at 8 a.m.

About 5,475 Fresno State students are eligible for a degree conferral by President Joseph I. Castro, who will be joined by former Fresno State professor Hugo Morales of the California State University Board of Trustees.

Abigail Hudson, president of Associated Students, Incorporated will open the free, public ceremony with the traditional student welcome.



At the main University ceremony Saturday, the President’s Medalist and the University Graduate Medalist will be announced. The students are selected from the 17 Deans’ Medalists representing the University’s eight colleges and schools and the Division of Student Affairs.

The announcement will be posted on the University’s news website, along with a photo gallery of the weekend’s activities. The two top medalists will also be featured on the marquee boards at the Save Mart Center and Bulldog Stadium.

Also Saturday morning, Morales will confer by authority of the CSU Board of Trustees the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters on Juan Felipe Herrera, a former Fresno State professor who is serving a second term as the United States Poet Laureate.

In the mid-1970s, Morales taught in the La Raza Studies Program at Fresno State and founded Radio Bilingue, Inc., a bilingual radio network based in Fresno that airs throughout the U.S. and Mexico. La Raza Studies was later renamed the Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies and Herrera later became chairman. Herrera became the first Latino U.S. poet laureate.

Herrera will later deliver the keynote at the 40th Chicano/Latino Commencement Celebration at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Other keynote speakers include Ramsey Jay, Jr. for the African-American Recognition Program at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Save Mart Center; Deborah J. Ikeda for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Graduation Ceremony at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Satellite Student Union; and Kathleen Arambula-Reyna for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) Commencement Celebration at 6 p.m. Friday in the Alice Peters Auditorium

Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, professor of music in the College of Arts and Humanities, will receive the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, Fresno State provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

New this year:

Safe Celebrating Campaign: Several new activities emphasize that all Fresno State commencement ceremonies are alcohol- and drug-free events and a zero-tolerance expectation will be enforced. Graduates and guests will not be permitted to carry alcoholic beverages into ceremony sites or consume them there. Students who are visibly intoxicated or disruptive will not be allowed in the venues or will be escorted from the ceremonies. Several events promote the campaign, including the Bulldog Stadium Celebration held May 12 and the Bulldog Grad Walk May 21 prior to commencement. See and Commencement Expectations information provided to students.

Bulldog Grad Walk: A mile-long final, leisurely trek across campus will be held Saturday at 7 a.m., ending at the Save Mart Center for the main Commencement ceremony. Students will gather at the northwest lawn of the Grosse Industrial Technology building for a free continental breakfast followed by the procession passing by memorable campus landmarks: the Peace Garden, Madden Library, Memorial Fountain, Rose Garden and Smittcamp Alumni House and ending at the Save Mart Center loading dock to line up for the ceremony processional.

Bulldog for Life Graduation Celebration: From noon to 2 p.m. following commencement, graduates and their families and friends will gather on the south lawn of the Save Mart Center for a new event presented by Fresno State Alumni Association. Four 8-by-12 photo walls will be available and the first 800 graduates to snap a photo in front of the wall will receive a free Bulldog for Life selfie stick.  Graduates who take photos at the event will also be entered into a raffle to win prizes such as a $100 Macy’s gift card, diploma frames, alumni merchandise and a grand prize of $500, presented by event sponsor Fresno Lexus. Dusty Buns Bistro, Raw Fresno, Jay’s Specialty Ice Cream, Snow Cafe and Meltdown Bistro food trucks will be on location. The Kennel Bookstore will be selling Fresno State and alumni gear at its booth. Victor E. Bulldog III will be on site for a special presentation by Fresno Lexus.

Tagboard: Photos posted on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can be displayed live on the arena monitors at commencement by using the hashtag #FSGrad16 (or #clcc16fs for Chicano/Latino Commencement Saturday evening).

Amtrak Special: Amtrak San Joaquins offers its friends and family discount: with the purchase of one adult full-fare train ticket, passengers may purchase up to five more tickets at half the cost for the same trip. Tickets must be purchased at least 48 hours prior to the date of travel. In addition to this discount program, students receive a 15-percent discount any time they travel Amtrak. (For both discounts, restrictions and conditions apply). See, call 800.872.7245 or see

Eagle’s Feather: The University has approved the use of ceremonial feathers from birds of prey by American Indian students at University graduation ceremonies, including the main commencement and the American Indian graduation ceremony. While the practice has never been specifically prohibited, and since all students are permitted to decorate their graduation regalia, Castro wants to make an affirmative statement regarding free expression and cultural rights for Fresno State’s students of American Indian tribal heritage.

Parking note: With the opening of Campus Pointe last year, guests are reminded that parking there is for customers, tenants and employees only (no event parking for the Save Mart Center). Vehicles are subject to being towed if parking regulations are not followed.

KFSR Student Spotlight:  A KFSR radio show podcast discussing commencement, hosted by Dr. Frank Lamas, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, is available at

The Class of 2016 Commencement season kicked off May 12 with the Educational Opportunity Program on campus.

The events resume Friday, May 20, with 23 college and school convocations in addition to department and program celebrations throughout the day at multiple locations. On Saturday, after the main commencement, another five events will be held before concluding Sunday with the Nursing Graduate Pinning Ceremony at 4 p.m. at Tower Theatre (815 E Olive Ave).

See the full schedule of  events at

Some of the ceremonies require tickets based on the size of the graduating class and anticipated audience. Those events are noted on the schedule. Live streaming will not be available but video will be posted to Fresno State YouTube page the week after commencement.

Fresno State’s 5,475-student class of 2016 consists of (includes summer and fall 2015 graduates and spring 2016 applicants):  

  • 4,444 students who completed requirements for their baccalaureate degree
  • 1,031 who earned post-baccalaureate degrees (952 students earned master’s and education specialist degrees and 79 students earned doctorate degrees)

The doctoral cohorts and candidates are:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with 25
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) with 30
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) with 24.

The University’s official spring enrollment was 22,417 and fall was 24,136.

Summa Cum Laude (with highest praise) distinction for a GPA of 3.9 to 4.0 was earned by 178 students.  

Typically, about 1,300 students walk in the ceremony with others opting to participate only in their respective college convocations or department/program celebrations.

Graduating music majors will perform: Kaylene Clark sings the National Anthem to open the ceremony and Cameron Mendez and Vivian Santos sing the Alma Mater to close it.

H. Dan Smith will lead the procession as grand marshal as one of the University’s longest tenured faculty members. Smith, who joined Fresno State’s faculty in 1978, is a professor in the Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation.

Adam Stirrup, the president of the Fresno State Alumni Association, will welcome the class of 2016 graduates as official alumni after the degree conferral.

The commencement ceremony is organized by the University Commencement Planning Committee, coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs under the guidance of staff in the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development.


Parking will be free in Save Mart Center lots for all commencement events May 20 and 21 on campus. Guests are encouraged to arrive early. Students participating in the new Bulldog Grad Walk that starts at the Grosse Industrial Technology building can park in Lot P20).

Guests with mobility concerns can be dropped off at the circle drive off Shaw Avenue adjacent to the Student Recreation Center (just west of the Save Mart Center).

Handicap parking lots: Lot 5 (directly behind Save Mart Center), and lots P1, P5 and P6.

See maps, parking and GPS addresses for each of the six commencement venues on campus:

With the opening of Campus Pointe last year, guests are reminded that parking there is for customers and tenant/employees only — no event parking for the Save Mart Center. Vehicles are subject to being towed if parking regulations are not followed.

Traffic:  Please follow directions of traffic personnel stationed at various lots throughout campus.

Off campus events parking

Woodwork Park: Daily park entry fees are $5 per vehicle or $3 per vehicle in which a senior citizen (age 65 or older) is a passenger or driver. Directions: .


Guests may sit anywhere in the arena except on the floor and in lower sections 102, 103, 104 (reserved for graduates). Guests will want to sit on the side of the arena