Fresno State’s 107th Commencement season is highlighted by the main University Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 19, at the Save Mart Center. Doors open at 8 a.m. and procession begins at 9:30 a.m. Several new security measures will be in place this year.

About 6,076 Fresno State students are eligible for degree conferral by University President Joseph I. Castro. Pending final certification of spring 2018 degrees, it would be the highest number of degrees ever awarded at Fresno State in an academic year. Castro will be joined by John Nilon of the California State University Board of Trustees.

Blake Zante, president of Associated Students, Inc., will open the free, public ceremony with the traditional student welcome.

The students selected for the University’s top academic honors, the President’s Medalist and the University Graduate Medalist, will be announced. The students were selected from the nine Deans’ Undergraduate Medalists and nine Deans’ Graduate Medalists representing the University’s eight colleges and schools and the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

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

Also, Nilon will confer an honorary doctorate of science degree by authority of the CSU Board of Trustees to engineer James “Jim” R. Provost, founding principal of Provost and Pritchard Engineering Group.

New security measures

In order to provide a safe and secure environment for all, the following items are not permitted at Fresno State graduation ceremony venues:

  • Hoverboards
  • Bottles, cans, coolers or similar containers
  • Food, drinks or illegal substances
  • Any weapon, including guns, stun guns, chains, studded bracelets
  • Video equipment, professional camera, tripods or recording devices
  • Laser pointers, aerosol cans, noise-makers, fireworks
  • Helium balloons
  • Tobacco and smoking, including e-cigarettes or vapors
  • Lighters of any kind
  • Selfie sticks
  • Pets or non-service animals
  • Explosives
  • Handcuffs, brass knuckles, sticks, clubs, batons, martial arts instruments
  • Pepper spray, tear gas
  • Knives of any kind
  • Any other items determined to be unacceptable or dangerous by venue management

Any signage that will obstruct the view of other ceremony guests for an extended period of time may be subject to removal by venue management.

Save Mart Center

All guests entering the Save Mart Center are subject to a search of their person and their property, this includes a visual inspection and a bag inspection conducted by Save Mart Center security personnel. Persons entering the facility, as a condition of the license to enter, may be subject to search by electronic wand regardless of whether they are carrying any of the above-mentioned items. The purpose of the inspection is to detect prohibited items.

The Save Mart Center prohibits backpacks and any bags larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches. The only approved bags are diaper bags, bags smaller than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches and medically necessary items (after proper inspection). All bags are subject to search.

Academic Regalia Security Screening at Save Mart Center

To ensure a smooth and efficient security process when entering the Save Mart Center, graduates and faculty wearing academic regalia are advised to carry their robes into event venues and then dress in designated lineup areas.

Safe Celebrating campaign

Several events will help promote that Fresno State commencement ceremonies are alcohol-, drug-, smoke-, vapor- and tobacco-free events, and that a zero-tolerance for disorderly behavior will be strictly enforced. Safe Celebration events begin with an Alternative Grad Night from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 17, in the Bulldog Zone and Bulldog Bowl (lower level of the University Student Union). Graduates can enjoy free bowling, billiards and pizza while supplies last.

On Saturday, May 19, at the University Commencement graduate line up (Save Mart Center loading dock), free breakfast burritos for graduating students will be provided, while supplies last starting, beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Graduates and guests will not be permitted to carry in or consume alcoholic beverages at ceremony sites and students are asked to support the spirit of dignified celebration with the Safe Celebrating Pledge.

Dr. Frank Lamas, Fresno State’s vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, whose division coordinates the main Commencement, said students who are intoxicated or disruptive will not be allowed in the ceremony venue or will be escorted from the ceremonies. See Commencement Expectations information provided to students.

Bulldog for Life Graduation Celebration

Fresno State’s newest graduates are invited to attend the Bulldog For Life Graduation Celebration, hosted by the Fresno State Alumni Association and presenting sponsor Fresno Lexus. Graduates, families and friends are encouraged to gather on the south lawn of the Save Mart Center immediately following the 107th University Commencement on Saturday, May 19. Guests can easily find their graduates with meeting locations marked by the first letter of the graduate’s last name. Attendees can expect to enjoy photo opportunities at six different photo walls, music and refreshments. The Kennel Bookstore will be selling Fresno State and alumni gear at its booth inside the Save Mart Center during graduation. INFO: Amanda Hall, program coordinator for student and young alumni engagement, at 559.278.0400 or

Eagle’s Feather

The use of ceremonial feathers from birds of prey will again be permitted for use by American Indian students at University graduation ceremonies, including the main University Commencement and the American Indian Graduation Honoring.

This week, events resume Friday, May 18, with college and school convocations in addition to department and program celebrations throughout the day at multiple locations. On Saturday, after the main University Commencement, another 10 events will be held before concluding Sunday with the Nursing Undergraduate Pinning Ceremony at 2 p.m. at the Warnors Theater.

See the full schedule of events at

The main University Commencement ceremony will be streamed on Facebook Live. Video of the main University Commencement will be posted to the Fresno State YouTube page the week after commencement.

At the University Commencement Saturday morning, Paul Price, professor of psychology in the College of Science and Mathematics, will receive the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, Fresno State provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Graduate Alejandra Tejeda will sing the National Anthem to open the ceremony and graduates Ashley Juskalian, Emma DenBesten, Marc McGhee and David White will 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. He is retiring this year.

Brian Domingos Jr., the president of the Fresno State Alumni Association board, will welcome the class of 2018 graduates as official alumni after the degree conferral.

The commencement ceremony is organized by the University Commencement Planning Committee and is coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management under the guidance of staff in the Student Involvement Center.

Fresno State’s 6,076-student class of 2018 consists of:

  • 5,017 students who completed requirements for their baccalaureate degrees
  • 1,059 who earned post-baccalaureate degrees (981 students earned master’s and education specialist degrees and 78 students earned doctoral degrees)

The doctoral cohorts and candidate breakdowns are:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) with 22.
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) with 29.
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) with 27.    

Summa cum laude (with highest praise) distinction for a GPA of 3.9 to 4.0 was earned by 195 students with 37 of those earning straight A’s.


Parking will be free in Save Mart Center lots for all commencement events May 18 and 19 on campus. Guests are encouraged to arrive early.

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, P3, P5 and P8.

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

Guests are reminded that the Campus Pointe parking lot is for customers and tenant/employees only, not 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.


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 where their graduates will be seated. Graduates are seated by specific college/school. See chart.

The concession stands in the arena will be open for water and soft drink purchases only.

Flower bouquets and fresh leis will be for sale at merchandise sites throughout the arena.

Alumni gear will also be available for sale in the atrium on commencement day or at the Kennel Bookstore.

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