2024 Commencement Exercises

The 35th 精东影业 Commencement Exercises will be held on Saturday, May 18, 2024 at 8:00 am in 精东影业鈥檚 Panther Stadium. Additional celebratory events will begin on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 - Saturday, May 18, 2024.

2024 Commencement Weekend

The 35th 精东影业 Commencement Convocation will be held on Saturday, May 18, 2024 at 8:00 AM in addition to other celebratory events held May 15 – 18, 2024.


All dates and activities are tentative and subject to change.

Hooding and Recognition Ceremonies

School of Arts and Sciences Masters & Ph.D. Honors Ceremony

Wednesday, May 15 | 6:00 p.m.

Bishop Cornelius L. Henderson Student Center
Juanita Powell Baranco Multipurpose Room

School of Business Hooding Ceremony

Thursday, May 16 | 1:00 p.m.

Thomas W. Cole, Jr. Research Center for Science and Technology
Delores P. Aldridge Auditorium

School of Education Hooding and Recognition Ceremony

Friday, May 17 | 5:00 p.m.

Haven-Warren Hall
Davage Auditorium

The Whitney M. Young, Jr. School of Social Work Annual Hooding Ceremony

Friday, May 17 | 1:00 p.m.

Thomas W. Cole, Jr. Research Center for Science and Technology
Delores P. Aldridge Auditorium

Graduation Rehearsal

Thursday, May 16 | 3:30 p.m.

精东影业 Panther Stadium

The Salute to Graduates

Thursday, May 16 | 6:00 p.m.

Bishop Cornelius L. Henderson Student Center
Juanita Powell Baranco Multipurpose Room


Friday, May 17 | 10:00 a.m.

Vivian Wilson Henderson Health and Physical Education Center
Leonidas S. Epps Gymnasium

Rev. Dr. Michael T. McQueen, Messenger

District Superintendent, Central North District, in North Georgia
The United Methodist Church
North Georgia Representative to the 精东影业’s Board of Trustees

Grace Towns Hamilton/Evelyn Gibson Lowery “Women of Excellence” Social Justice Award Recipient
Georgianne Thomas, Doctors of Arts in the Humanities, 精东影业 2006
Activist, Author, and Educator

35th Commencement Convocation

Saturday, May 18 | 8:00 a.m.

Commencement Speaker

2024 Honorary Degree Recipient

精东影业 Panther Stadium

Daniel Black, Ph.D., CC 1988

Nationally Renowned, Award-Winning Novelist
Professor, African American Studies and Macebearer

Tina Maria Dunkley, AU 1980

Former Director/Curator of the 精东影业 Art Museum

About Daniel Black, Ph.D.

Author, Professor, Consultant, Mentor

Dr. Daniel Black is a 30-year professor of African American Studies at 精东影业. He is also an award-winning novelist, activist, mentor and public speaker. His published works include They Tell Me of Home, The Sacred Place, Perfect Peace, Twelve Gates to the City, The Coming, Listen to the Lambs, Don鈥檛 Cry for Me, and Black on Black. In 2014, he won the Distinguished Writer鈥檚 Award from the Mid-Atlantic Writer鈥檚 Association. The Go On Girl! National Book Club named him 鈥淎uthor of the Year鈥 in 2011 for his best-selling novel Perfect Peace. Perfect Peace was also chosen as the 2014 selection for 鈥淚f All Arkansas Read the Same Book鈥 by the Arkansas Center for the Book at the Arkansas State Library. The novel has been reprinted more than ten times and is being heralded as an American literary classic. Dr. Black has been nominated (three times) for the Townsend Literary Prize, the Ernest J. Gaines Award, the Ferro-Grumbley Literary Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the Georgia Author of the Year Prize, and the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award.听

In 2015, Dr. Black鈥檚 The Coming was published to broad critical acclaim. The novel is a first-hand account of the trauma and triumph of Africans aboard a slave ship in the 16th century. Reviewers call this work 鈥渂rilliant鈥, 鈥減oetic鈥, and 鈥渁 literary homage to the lives of those Africans tossed into the sea.鈥 National Book Award winner Charles Johnson says, 鈥The Coming is powerful and brilliant.鈥 He goes on to state, 鈥淭his is a work to be proud of!鈥 In 2016, Dr. Black鈥檚 long-awaited novel Listen to the Lambs was released. This novel explores the lives and agency of unhoused people who find each other on the street and create lives of meaning without material substance.

Dr. Black鈥檚 work has been justly celebrated. Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker says this about Perfect Peace: 鈥淚t is a spellbinding novel that kept me reading late into several nights. A young boy raised as a girl until 鈥榮he鈥 was eight years old鈥. and then? Forced to be a 鈥榖oy.鈥 It is a gift to have so much passion, so much love, so much beautiful writing so flawlessly faithful to the language of ancestors who grappled as best they could with more than they could ever understand. This novel will one day be a film of much benefit to us, if done well. The visuals of it will help us see what we are so often blind to: the great fluidity inherent in all things, including 鈥榬ace鈥 and sexuality. Thank you, Daniel Black.鈥

Dr. Black鈥檚 newest novel, Don鈥檛 Cry For Me, was released by HarperCollins on February 1, 2022. About this novel, National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward says, 鈥Don鈥檛 Cry for Me is a perfect song: the epistolary dirge of a man singing to his son as he faces death by cancer. At turns intense and funny, tender and brutally honest, Jacob鈥檚 letter to his son, Isaac, is revelatory. It鈥檚 a beautiful book. Read it.鈥 Black鈥檚 newest work is his first essay collection titled BLACK ON BLACK, which was released on January 30, 2023. In response to this work, renowned Baldwin scholar Dr. Eddie Glaude says, 鈥Black on Black is a tour de force. Brilliant. Passionate. Deeply caring. One reads these essays and feels immediately enveloped in Daniel Black鈥檚 love鈥攅ven when he challenges you or when you might disagree. I really needed to read this book in these trying times.鈥

Dr. Black also works as a diversity consultant, having spoken at top-tier companies in America such as Google, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, AT&T, and Global Payments. He assists corporations with creating work environments in which all employees, of every level and difference, feel supported and valued.听

A native of Kansas City, Kansas, Black spent his formative years in rural Blackwell, Arkansas. He graduated from Clark College (now 精东影业) where he earned the prestigious Oxford Modern British Studies fellowship and studied abroad at Oxford University. He was then awarded a full fellowship to Temple University where he studied with Black Arts Movement poet laureate Sonia Sanchez and, in 1992, earned his Ph.D. in African American Studies. Dr. Black has spent the majority of his 30 academic years as a professor of African American Studies at his beloved alma mater, 精东影业.听

Dr. Black lives in Atlanta and is the founder of the Ndugu-Nzinga Rites of Passage Nation, a mentoring society for people of African descent who seek to love themselves and build a world of character for their people.听

Currently, Dr. Black has completed the literary sequel to Don鈥檛 Cry for Me, tentatively titled Isaac鈥檚 Song. He is also working on part II of The Coming titled The Second Coming and a black scripture titled The Good Book.听


Shannay Porter
Major: Mass Media Arts
Concentration: Journalism
4.0 GPA


Jitarra Ellis
Major: Mass Media Arts
Concentration: Radio/TV/Film
3.9765 GPA

Baccalaureate and Commencement honorees

Georgianne Thomas, Doctors of Arts in the Humanities, 精东影业 2006
Grace Towns Hamilton/Evelyn Gibson Lowery “Women of Excellence” Social Justice Award Recipient

Tina Maria Dunkley, AU 1980
Honorary Degree Recipient

Frequently Asked Questions

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Panther Stadium

8:00 a.m.

The Commencement speaker is Daniel Black, Ph.D., 鈥88, an author and professor of African American studies at 精东影业.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Vivian Wilson Henderson Health and Physical Education Center

Leonidas Epps Gymnasium

10:00 a.m.

A Baccalaureate Service is a celebration that honors a graduating class from a college/university. The event is typically a Christianity-based interdenominational worship service.

The Baccalaureate Spear is The Reverend Dr. Michael McQueen. The Reverend Dr. McQueen serves as the District Superintendent Central North District in North Georgia in The United Methodist Church.

The Commencement Ceremony is a celebration for all students who have completed degree requirements at 精东影业

Graduation Rehearsal听(MANDATORY)
Thursday, May 16, 2024听|听3:30 p.m.
Panther Stadium

Thursday, May 16, 2024听|听6:00 p.m.
Bishop Cornelius L. Henderson Student Center
Juanita Powell Baranco Multipurpose Room
*Attire: Casual

The Salute to Graduates is program honoring all graduating students. The top honors are recognized. Honor cords and medallions are presented.

The Hooding Ceremony at 精东影业 is conducted within each school. The ceremony is a special recognition for graduates receiving a master鈥檚 degree or a Ph.D. Undergraduate students are recognized during the ceremony as determined by the school.

Wednesday, May 15 – Friday, May 17, 2024

In order to participate in the Hooding and Recognition Ceremony and Commencement activities, all faculty and students must be in full regalia. WMYJSSW Ph.D. students wear black suits or dresses. They are hooded at commencement in their regalia. Social Work Graduating Master and BSW level students are required to wear their regalia at the hooding.

No. The School of Arts and Sciences gives a Recognition Celebration鈥 to acknowledge outstanding achievement among its students.

Students and faculty will wear formal Business Attire 鈥 dark suits and dresses.

The graduation fee is required of all graduating students regardless of participation in the ceremony.

The graduation fee $300.00. This fee assists with administrative costs of graduation.

The graduation fee includes, diploma cover, diploma, electronic diploma, official and unofficial transcripts, alumni association dues, and miscellaneous administrative costs.

OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY ACADEMIC REGALIA must be worn during Commencement Convocation with comfortable black shoes.

Order cap and gowns immediately to ensure timely delivery, if you have not done so already. Cap and gown orders for home delivery are available through April 15, 2024. Home delivery orders will be delivered within 1-3 weeks. However, a $14.90 shipping fee will be added to the order.

Honor cords will be distributed at the 鈥淭he Salute to Graduate,鈥 Thursday, May 16, 2024

The University does not provide on campus lodging.

Commencement will be held in 精东影业 Panther Stadium.

Venue gates will open at 6:00 A.M. for seating

Tickets are not needed to attend Commencement.

Seats may not be held! We strongly encourage family and friends to arrive early in order to sit together

2024 Baccalaureate Service Link

2024 Commencement Ceremony

The expected duration of the ceremony is approximately 2 hours – 8:00 a.m. 鈥 10:00 a.m.

Commencement is a rain or shine event.

Guests may take their own photos; however, guests must remain seated and do not block the aisles or view of other guests. This is not only to keep the ceremony running on schedule, but is also for the safety and convenience of all attendees.

A professional photographer has been hired to take individual pictures of each student accepting their diploma cover from the President. Graduation pictures may be ordered online at www.curtismcdowell.com.

Students, family members or guests with disabilities or requiring special accommodations for the Baccalaureate or Commencement Services should click on the following link to reserve seating in the designated area:

Guests will be directed to the designated seating area upon arrival at each venue.

鈥 Families must provide wheelchairs, walkers, etc.

鈥 A family member must accompany the special-needs guest(s) to assist when necessary.

Students are urged to provide this information as soon as possible to ensure that you and your guest(s) will have the necessary accommodations to participate in commencement activities with minimum inconvenience.

Please be guided by the following:









Small signs

Bottled water

Service animals

Clear stadium bags(only)


Baccalaureate Exercises

Baccalaureate Address

Commencement Exercises

Commencement Address