A7: Graduation and Commencement

Responsibility for Maintenance: Registration and Records; Events Management

Date of most recent changes: June 23, 2022 

I. Policy Statement

Onondaga Community College degrees shall be awarded, and annual commencement ceremonies shall be planned and conducted, in accordance with this policy.  

II. Reason for Policy

The policy is designed to ensure that degrees will be awarded in accordance with applicable law, and that commencement ceremonies will be conducted in accordance with applicable law and in a manner designed to reflect favorably upon the College.  

III. Applicability of the Policy

All members of the College community involved in planning and conducting graduation and commencement ceremonies should be familiar with this policy.  

IV. Related Documents

V. Contacts

Office Name Title or Position Telephone Number Email/URL
Registration and Records   (315) 498-2000 gradcentral@sunyocc.edu
Events Management Associate Vice President, Grants, Government, Alumni & Events (315) 498-2764 tormeys@sunyocc.edu  

VI. Procedures

Applications for Graduation  

Degree candidates are recommended for graduation by the Program Coordinators, the Scholastic Standards Committee and the Faculty upon satisfactory completion of all the necessary requirements for their respective degrees or certificates. The President is authorized to approve for graduation those students so recommended. The Board of Trustees shall certify the list of approved graduates, as well as any additions, deletions or modifications to the list. The President or his/her designee is authorized to award diplomas and certificates and to confer degrees, in the name and on behalf of the College, to the candidates certified by the Board of Trustees.  

Awarding of Honors   

Graduates of Onondaga Community College wear an associate gown and mortarboard, with special accessories to signify the following achievements. Any new accessory other than the ones noted below will need prior approval by the Provost & Senior Vice President:

  • Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP): Members wear a special pin to recognize their involvement in this program.
  • Conversation Circles: Students who participated wear a special pin.
  • Curriculum Honorees: A light blue stole signifies the top students within their respective curriculum.
  • December Graduates: These individuals are represented by a blue tassel on their mortarboard.
  • Educational Opportunity Program: Graduates are represented by a purple and silver cord, signifying ambition and achievement.
  • Honors: The gold honors cord signifies academic achievement of a 3.4 or higher grade point average.
  • Honors College: A blue, gold, and white cord signifies the completion of an Honors Designation.
  • Kente Stoles: The Kente cloth is valued as a connection between heritage and the present. Students wear the Kente stole to recognize their successful completion of college and the advancement of the Black/African American/African people. The African Adinkra symbol on the stole represents democracy and unity in diversity.
  • LSAMP: A white stole signifies those students who are STEM Scholars in the LSAMP (Louise Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) program.  These students have shown a high level of tenacity in their STEM education.
  • Nursing Graduates: Graduates in this program are honored by Nursing faculty with a special pin as a symbolic welcome into the profession.
  • Phi Theta Kappa: A gold stole signifies members of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.
  • Pinnacle Award Honorees: Students selected for leadership achievements wear a medal on a blue and white striped ribbon.
  • Student Government Association: Elected by their peers, SGA Officers are signified by a silver stole trimmed in blue.
  • SUNY Chancellor’s Award of Excellence: Honorees wear a medal on a blue and gold ribbon.
  • Veterans: Honorees wear a red, white and blue cord to signify their service, contribution and sacrifices.

Recognition for GPA levels are noted below and will be noted by asterisks in the commencement program.

  • Cum Laude: 3.40 – 3.59
  • Magna Cum Laude: 3.60 – 3.79
  • Summa Cum Laude: 3.80 – 4.00  

Commencement honors dependent on the OCC cumulative GPA are based on the cumulative GPA at the time of commencement and may not reflect coursework in progress or recently completed.

Planning of Commencement Ceremonies  

Commencement exercises, including without limitation the location and date of ceremonies and the identities of guest speakers, shall be planned by Events Management and approved by the President.

Honorary Degrees  

The College may award honorary degrees that it is authorized to grant pursuant to applicable law, during commencement ceremonies. Honorary degrees shall be awarded (a) to recognize excellence and extraordinary achievement in the fields of public affairs, the sciences, humanities and the arts, scholarship and education, business and philanthropy or social services which exemplify the mission and purpose of the University; (b) to honor meritorious and outstanding service to the College, the State of New York, the United States, or to humanity at large; and/or (c) to recognize individuals whose lives and significant achievements should serve as examples of the College's aspirations for its students. The specific honorary degree awarded, which should normally bear a relationship to an academic discipline in the curriculum of the College, shall be appropriate to the nature of the attainment which is being recognized.


Approved by OCC Board of Trustees April 3, 2006

Updated and approved by the President January 6, 2010

Updated and approved by the President June 19, 2015

Updated and approved by the President June 23, 2022