The happiest day of the year

Commencement is often referred to as the happiest day of the year at Washington University in St. Louis. Thousands of students and their families gather in the Brookings Quadrangle as scholars are celebrated at the all-university event, as well as at individual school ceremonies across campus.

There are always lots of smiles, a few tears of joy and cheers. This year, there was something extra: rain … and construction.

The East End Transformation is nearing the halfway point of completion. And while there was no hiding the expansive site, Washington University staff ensured the magic of Commencement still shone through, despite a few logistical challenges.

Efforts started early. Public Affairs’ Social Media and Creative Services teams sent graduates and their families a whimsical, fun map of campus, outlining key points such as shuttle drop-offs, free coffee stops and photo booth locations.

Whimsical map of Washington University in St. Louis Commencement 2018

Because parking on campus is limited due to construction, the university ran shuttles back and forth from the Muny parking lots all morning. The university also provided dozens of additional golf carts going from the Danforth University Center drop-off point to the Quad for family members who needed extra assistance.

The week of Commencement, East End project team members from both Facilities, Planning & Management and McCarthy Building Companies staffed Danforth Plaza at the Brookings steps overlooking the construction site to answer questions about the project.

On Commencement Day, McCarthy staff were also at the fence perimeter to help direct people as they made their way to the Quad.

One of the great traditions of Commencement are all the photo opps available to graduates and their families, and the university did its best to accommodate. Construction displays in front of Brookings were moved so graduates could get those favorite front-of-Brookings snaps.

This grad and his family posed in front of a construction banner showing Brookings as it will look when east end construction is done! The comment read: “Bye #stlouis! We’ll be back when our park is completed.”

Two college students stand in front of a construction banner on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis

Photo by Morris Gong, courtesy @anngong8 on Instagram

There were also additional photo-booth backdrops, designed to give grads and their families more choices and fun for their Commencement images.

A college graduate, her parent, and young sibling stand in front of a backdrop of Brookings Hall at WashU

A group of WashU students in cap and gown pose for photos in front of a green illustrated backdrop

Despite rain and construction, Commencement was a day of celebration, joy and smiles. A special thanks to all staff and volunteers who altered their plans to ensure the best Commencement possible for our 2018 grads and their families.