Commencement History

WesternU’s annual Commencement ceremonies play an important role in the culture and traditions of the University, which was established in 1977 and now spans two states, California and Oregon. At these ceremonies, the University marshal, designated by the University mace, proudly starts the ceremony by leading the graduands into the auditorium. The faculty and administration soon follow and take their place on stage, eager to welcome their newest peers into the professional world of medicine. Graduands are then presented with colorful hoods that represent their specific area of study. As the University continues to grow and evolve, these traditions serve as a reminder of WesternU’s notable history and set the standard for countless opportunities to come.

Looking Back



Learn about the history of academic regalia, the president's distinct attire and the significance of your graduate's gown and hood colors.

Regalia worn in procession today trace origins to medieval universities, when all faculty were in religious orders and obliged to be properly gowned. Beyond ecclesiastical functions, robes marked clerics from the lay populace and also served well in unheated buildings of the day...


We invite you to learn more about the key ritual elements that are seen at WesternU’s ceremonies. They symbolize our rich history and honored traditions.

Maces date from at least 1200 as heavy weapons borne by Sergeants-at-Arms meant to protect the King’s person. By the 14th century maces had become purely ceremonial, and increasingly decorative, symbols of royal or other institutional authority. The University Mace is a…


From the first keynote address in 1982 given by Dixon Arnett to the 2019 address by the first woman governor of Oregon, Barbara Roberts, the WesternU family has been honored with inspirational and influential speakers for 38 years.

Each year, hundreds of graduates leave Commencement with the keynote address fresh in their minds. WesternU prides itself on providing these future medical professionals with a message that will resonate for years to come.

Looking Forward

We know that future planning is important, so we’ve provided the dates of commencement through 2025.

Graduates looking forward while they wait in line to begin ceremony