University of South Florida


three usf grads in full regalia smile at the camera

[Photos by Torie Doll, University Communications and Marketing]

USF adds eco-friendly flair to commencement

By Donna Smith | University Communications and Marketing

Graduates and guests attending fall commencement will see some enhancements to regalia, stage design and programs – many of which were made with sustainability in mind. 

After seven years of purchasing green gowns, undergraduate and master’s students will now rent higher-quality black ones, a new practice that seeks to prevent them from ending up in landfills. The gowns also have full-color embroidered seals placed prominently so that students can wear their cords, stoles and medallions without covering them. 

“We would regularly hear from graduates that they were happy that we, as an institution, allow additional regalia, such as honor society cords, student club sashes and stoles, since many other universities do not,” said Travis Miller, deputy chief of staff for President Rhea Law. “But we also heard that doing so covered up the only identifier on the gown that marked you as a USF graduate, so we moved the seal to the sleeve for bachelor’s and to a new, more prominent placement on the chest for master’s, since they traditionally do not wear additional regalia.”

  • Undergraduate gowns now have the embroidered seal on the sleeve in order to prevent it from being obscured by cords, stoles and other regalia. 

  • Gowns for master's graduates have a new, more prominent seal on the chest.

In another measure to reduce waste, new graduates will receive a USF Alumni pin and a note card with a QR code that links to a digital program.  The eco-friendly effort will ease print deadlines and prevent graduates who missed the registration deadline from being left out of the program. 

This is also the first time in nearly 20 years that USF’s commencement stage will be designed to feature a more modern look. As an additional move towards sustainability, the greenery that typically adorns the stage will be reused and planted across campus after commencement weekend.

“This was another important change for us, because it allowed us to not only reduce our waste, but also to help with enhancing our campus each semester,” Miller said. “Overall, a lot of work has gone into this new iteration of USF commencement, one that we feel continues to put the graduates’ experience first and celebrates them and their time with us.”

Graduates who would like a printed program can pick one up from the USF bookstores on each campus – free of charge – on a first-come, first-served basis, starting Monday, Dec. 11. More information about commencement can be found here

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