The Commencement Ceremony

North Central Missouri College and other American colleges and universities, public and private, follow the pattern of degree granting developed at the University of Paris, founded about 1100.

In the early days of the University of Paris, the discipline and education of the students fell under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Paris, who claimed supervision of curriculum and degree-granting. However, the Bishop faced opposition from the teaching masters, who felt that they were the proper judges of the students’ qualifications. The masters demanded the right to grant the degree. By 1200, the Bishop and the teaching masters had reached a compromise: the masters judged the merits of the students and then recommended them to the Bishop, who conferred the degree.

The contemporary ceremony is the successor to this medieval compromise. The Faculty Senate President sits on the platform in their role as teacher and examiner. The Vice President, their leader, presents the qualified candidates to the President. Acting upon the recommendation of the faculty, the President, as executive officer of the Board of Trustees, formally confers the appropriate degree.

(Information courtesy of Washington University)

The Walk

Before Commencement ceremonies take place, students gather in front of Geyer Hall at the Hoover Quadrangle. During that time, students are lined-up by faculty marshals. When the procession begins, students march from Geyer Hall, past the Hoover Quadrangle, and leave the Henderson Circle area to fall in line behind the platform party and faculty. The Faculty Senate President leads the entire procession to the Ketcham Community Center, where the ceremony will take place.

The historical walk represents students leaving the institution, and entering into the next phase of their life. It’s an important NCMC tradition and the march is videotaped each year for posterity.


The Faculty Senate President leads the Recession, indicating the Commencement Ceremony has ended. The Platform Party follows, then the faculty, and graduates. Immediately after leaving the auditorium, the faculty will line each side of the door that will be exited by graduates. As graduates march through the line, faculty members utilize this opportunity to be the first to congratulate the new graduates on their completion and reaching this important milestone.

Diploma Cover

Because final grades may still be issued and transcripts continue to be verified, students are not issued their actual diploma until late May/early June. During the Commencement ceremony, graduates are provided with a diploma cover. On the outside of the cover is the phrase, Scientia Est Divitiae, which is Latin for Knowledge is Wealth. Inside the diploma cover, a note from the College President congratulates them on their achievement.

Presidential Medallion

The medallion is worn by the College President at Commencement. It symbolizes the authority and responsibility vested in the President. The medallion is inscribed on the front with the College seal. The back of the Medallion contains a list of past Presidents.

Dr. Vicki Wheeler Brunch

In 2003, the tradition began in the Arts and Sciences Division to honor an outstanding graduate with the Academic Excellence Award (AEA). In 2005, the awards were expanded and outstanding graduates in other programs of study were recognized. Awards were given to the top student in the following programs: Associates in Arts, Associates in Arts in Teaching, Accounting, Agriculture, Business Management, Business Technology, Early Childhood, Level I and II Nursing in Trenton and Maryville, Level I Nursing Bethany, Criminal Justice, and Medical Assistant. To further recognize students, as well as celebrate with their families, a breakfast was established prior to the graduation ceremony. As time passes. academic programs change, and the recognition event evolves, central focus remains on recognizing and celebrating NCMC’s outstanding students. In May 2006, the breakfast was named in honor of Professor Emeritus Dr. Vicki Wheeler. In 2014 the breakfast moved to a brunch, as the College moved to two ceremonies rather than one. The event is currently held between morning and afternoon Commencements. Carrying on the tradition of excellence, the Dr. Vicki Wheeler Brunch continues to honor outstanding students in their various programs of study. The Dr. Vicki Wheeler Brunch is held in the Cross Hall atrium, immediately following the morning Commencement ceremony. Honored students and their families are invited to attend. Dr. Vicki Wheeler was hired in August 1976. She retired 30 years later in 2006. Throughout her tenure with the College, Dr. Wheeler primarily taught English while also serving as an Associate Dean. Dr. Wheeler took on a leadership role outside of the classroom as well, serving as a primary writer for NCMC’s North Central Accreditation report. She also advised NCMC’s theatre group, the NCMC Players. In addition, Dr. Wheeler facilitated a successful Elderhostel program and the first NCMC Kids College. She was also instrumental in the creation of an academic assistance program, which later became the Academic Resource Center (ARC) and later the Tutoring Center. The Tutoring Center continues to provide academic assistance to students today.

Rose Notes

During the Pancake Feed prior to rehearsal, Phi Theta Kappa provides rose notes for graduate candidates to purchase. The rose note includes a rose with a special message attached to it. Graduates are encouraged to add their own personal thank you and give the rose note to someone who was instrumental in assisting them as they completed their degree. This is the graduate’s opportunity to recognize a spouse, partner, child, friend, parent, faculty member, staff member, or other special individual who contributed to their success while at NCMC.

Sophomore Send-Off/Rehearsal Pancake Feed

The Pancake Feed started in 2011 by Student Services. The Division wanted to recognize graduates in a special way through food, fellowship, and fun! During the pancake feed, held immediately prior to rehearsal, graduates are invited to join other graduates, faculty, staff, and NCMC Trustees in the Ketcham Community Center for brunch. The fun, relaxed atmosphere is enhanced with Chris Cakes servers flipping pancakes high into the air for those in line to catch on their plates. It’s also a great way to share memories and say “see you later,” as Pirates never say good-bye.