Formal Traditions


The evening before Commencement, sophomore graduates clad in white gowns, and senior graduates clad in royal blue gowns, are “capped.” This tradition dates to the early days of the College when each graduate selected one younger student to place the traditional mortarboard upon the head. Today, each graduate selects two or three other students or other individuals of any gender who are special to the student. This ceremony is held on the front steps of Main Hall, weather permitting, with cappers traditionally dressed in white dresses or slacks or white shirts and khaki pants.


On Sunday morning following spring final exams, Cottey celebrates Commencement, a festive ceremony that recognizes and honors Cottey graduates and Cottey as a learning community. Graduating sophomores in white caps and gowns and graduating seniors in royal blue caps and gowns assemble on the Senior Sidewalks in front of the Chapel and carry daisies (associate degree graduates carry a single daisy; baccalaureate degree graduates carry a cluster of daisies). First- and third-year students, wearing white dresses, form two lines beginning at the front doors of Hinkhouse Center and extending onto the esplanade. Graduates march from the Senior Sidewalks and are joined by faculty and staff along Austin Street and proceed to the esplanade, where they pass through the column formed by the first- and third year students. Following the Commencement ceremony recessional, first-year students pick up a single daisy placed in the basket by second-year graduates and form the traditional Daisy Chain through which the new graduates to pass. Third-year students present second-year students pursuing a baccalaureate degree at Cottey a cluster of daisies symbolizing their entrance into the B.A. program.

Family Weekend

Early in the fall, family members are invited to campus for a weekend of special activities. The first Family Weekend was held in 1984.

Formal Drawing

Held at the beginning of the fall semester, each freshman is chosen at random or by legacy to become a member of the Alphan, Delphian, Emerson, or Magnoperian Socieities.

Founder’s Day Weekend

Founder’s Day is celebrated each year in late March or early April. The observance began while the College’s founder, Virginia Alice Cottey, was alive. It was originally a celebration of her birthday which is March 27, 1848. Today, alumnae return to visit their alma mater, attend special events, and renew friendships.

Signing of the Cottey Book

During Opening Convocation each fall, all new students participate in this ceremony of honor. Signing of the Cottey Book signifies personal and academic honesty, commitment to the values of the College, and dedication to cooperation for the good of all. New students have signed the Cottey Book since 1935.

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