December 2020 Commencement


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Program Order

President Sabah Randhawa, Presiding

  1. National Anthem
  2. Commencement History
  3. Message from the Governor
  4. Message from President Sabah
  5. Student Life Montage
  6. Student Roll Call
  7. Student Speaker
  8. Faculty and Staff Congrats
  9. Dean's Message
  10. Master’s Degree Graduate Slides
  11. Bachelor’s Degree Graduate Slides
  12. Family Celebrations
  13. Message from the Alumni Association
  14. Closing Remarks
  15. Alma Mater


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Nate Gaines wearing graduation gown and brightly striped class of 2020 sash, sitting on concrete stairway

December's Student Speaker

Nathaniel Gaines comes from a family of educators and hopes to follow their footsteps toward a career in higher education, with the goal of ensuring more students have the kinds of meaningful experiences that made such a difference to him. While at Western, Nate was deeply involved in a wide variety of activities, from student government and campus ministry to professional development organizations, even while working off-campus at a pizza restaurant. At the ceremony, Nate plans to reflect on the lessons he and his fellow students have learned in college and ask students to take the opportunity to thank the people who have encouraged them toward graduation.

Nathaniel Gaines
Bachelor of Arts, Human Services

Memory Walk

and Alumni Way

Sabah Randhawa stands in blue ceremonial dress with two faculty members, one is wearing red ceremonial dress and holding the mace

Memory Walk has been a commencement tradition since 1912. Each year, a stone representing the graduating class is laid in the sidewalk that runs parallel to the facade of Old Main, Western’s first building. Beneath each of these class stones lie time capsules. During our virtual ceremony, students are encouraged to add memorabilia to the time capsule by mailing items to the Registrar's Office on campus or by submitting items digitally.


Digital Memory Box

Commencement History

The Mace and Pendant

Western ceremonial pendant and mace

Devices used during ceremonial occasions, the Mace and Pendant are both covered in historical symbolism.

Made of rosewood and silver, the mace has a wooden staff surmounted by a silver casting of a Viking ship. This sits at the front of the commencement podium. The top‑most circular band has the name of the University engraved and inlaid with blue enamel. The bottom of this ceremonial staff is a silver‑cast flame, symbolic of enlightenment.

The pendant worn by President Sabah is made of silver with a gold flame in the center. The gold flame is emblematic of the torch of learning, as it combines the intellectual and spiritual qualities of illumination, enlightenment, and inspiration. 


A podium on stage in front of Western


The commencement podium was designed and hand-crafted in Fall, 2014 by Randy Stribling, a local alumnus of Western Washington University. The pieces were built with sustainably yielded African Mahogany and faux ebony plugs to complement the chairs on the dais. The style is Greene and Greene, an elegant form of the Craftsman style popular in the early 20th century. When Western began as the Washington State Normal School at Bellingham at the turn of the last century, the Craftsman or Mission style of furniture was used extensively throughout the campus. Many examples can still be found tucked away in Old Main and elsewhere around the university. 

Nostalgic Glimpses

of Western Washington University

Two women in Edwardian-era dress use a scientific instrument and take notes

Western's first science classrooms were in Old Main, as in this 1910 photo. Photo courtesy of Western Libraries Special Collections.

Two men in suits stand in front of a large class of mixed-gender graduates, all with 1930's hairstyles

Gov. Clarence D. Martin and President Charles H. Fisher with Western's first Bachelor of Arts in Education degree recipients in 1933. Photo courtesy of Western Libraries Special Collections.

A western grad wearing a lei and kissing her mom on the cheek

Amanda "Peanutt" Ngeth and her grandmother Khon Pok pose for family photos at spring 2014 commencement. Photo by Dan Levine for WWU.

Ceremony Evaluation Survey

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