Baccalaureate Celebration FAQs

What is Baccalaureate?

Unlike the massive commencement exercises held in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the Baccalaureate ceremony offers a smaller, more intimate opportunity for the graduating class and their families to pause, reflect on this rite of passage, and celebrate the graduates’ achievements and perseverance. Hear the voices of a faculty member and graduating seniors reflect on their Lewis & Clark experience. Enjoy students’ musical and artistic talents.

Is the Baccalaureate a religious service?

While the Baccalaureate originated in the 15th century at Oxford College and carried more religious tones at its inception, today it is a non-religious, but sacred moment, to mark graduates’ journey and accomplishments.

When is Baccalaureate?

Baccalaureate occurs the Friday before Commencement, usually at 1pm, and typically lasts an hour. In 2023 the Baccalaureate Celebration will be held on Friday, May 5th.  More details to come.

Where is Baccalaureate held?

The Baccalaureate Celebration has traditionally been held in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel.

Who Plans Baccalaureate?

Baccalaureate is a celebration designed by a group of dedicated seniors. The seniors begin meeting in January. This year’s planning team is supported by Clara Daikh, Program Manager for Spiritual Life. Students interested in shaping this annual ritual, choosing speakers, and recruiting senior musical or artistic offerings are welcome to join the team. Contact Clara if interested:  We will start meeting in late January, 2023.

What is the history of the Baccalaureate?

The odd name, baccalaureate, comes from the early years of higher education when the bachelor’s degree was called “the baccalaureate.” It is believed that, during the 15th century, Oxford University established a tradition of sending their graduates off through a (very) long service that included sermons offered in Latin. When this tradition was carried to the United States the ceremony was changed, with the distinctly religious aspects of the ceremony encompassed in a service before Commencement. That service came to be called “Baccalaureate.” The word began as baccalaureus, (bachelor), and was altered to bacca lauri, (laurel berry) to mirror the bay tree leaves that were woven into crowns to be placed on the heads of scholars.

Today in recognition of our pluralistic society and the religious, secular, and spiritual diversity represented at Lewis & Clark, the Baccalaureate has evolved into a sacred, but non-religious, celebration to welcome the entire graduating class and their families.


Please reach out to Hilary Martin Himan, Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life. She can be reached at or 503-768-7082.