Iowa State spring commencement events are May 9-11

Commencement fall 2018

President Wendy Wintersteen congratulates a graduate during last fall's commencement. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

AMES, Iowa — An estimated 5,339 students are completing their Iowa State University degrees this semester, and many of them will celebrate the milestone during graduation events this week. The 2019 class includes approximately 4,524 undergraduates, 533 master’s candidates, 132 doctorate recipients and 150 students who will receive Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees.

The class of 2019 should surpass last spring’s record-setting class of 5,002 degree recipients, and in part reflects fall enrollments from 2013 to 2015 that grew by 1,200 to 2,000 students annually.

Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen will provide opening remarks at all four commencement ceremonies.

Undergraduate commencement: May 11, Hilton Coliseum

The university will hold two commencement ceremonies at Hilton Coliseum for bachelor’s degree recipients.

A ceremony honoring students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Ivy College of Business and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 11.


Robert Easter


Robert Easter, president emeritus and professor emeritus of animal science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will address the morning ceremony, during which he will also receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree. (Faculty members in animal science nominated Easter for the degree.) Easter was an Illinois faculty member and administrator from 1976 to 2015. His expertise is in pig nutrition, and he worked with ISU leaders to elevate publicly funded research in food, agriculture and natural resources as a national priority.

The undergraduate commencement for the College of Design, College of Engineering and College of Human Sciences will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday.


Simon Estes


Simon Estes, bass-baritone vocalist and F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Artist in Residence in the ISU department of music, will address the afternoon ceremony. Estes is a Centerville native, the son of a coal miner and grandson of a slave. He has become one of the most accomplished opera singers in the world, with more than 100 lead operatic roles to his credit. He is also known for international fundraising efforts on behalf of children, including for college scholarships, music instruction and campaigns to combat malaria and HIV/AIDS.


Graduate College commencement, May 9, Hilton Coliseum

The ISU Graduate College ceremony honoring doctoral and master’s students begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 9, in Hilton Coliseum.


Debra Stewart


Debra Stewart, a senior fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago and president emerita of the Council of Graduate Schools, will address the graduates. NORC, formerly the National Opinion Research Center, is one of the country's largest independent social research organizations, and Stewart advises its Higher Education Analytics Center. She served as dean of the graduate school at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, from 1988 to 2000, in addition to serving as the university’s vice provost from 1995 to 1998 and vice chancellor from 1998 to 2000. With her leadership, the Council of Graduate Schools launched a series of projects to strengthen universities’ capacity to better prepare graduate students for the 21st century.

Veterinary Medicine commencement: May 11, Stephens Auditorium

An anticipated 150 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees will be awarded during the College of Veterinary Medicine’s ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Stephens Auditorium.

Vincent Meador


Veterinary pathologist Vincent Meador will speak. Meador is both an Ames High School and ISU alumnus, earning four degrees at Iowa State: a bachelor’s in bacteriology (1977), a DVM (1981), and master’s (1986) and doctoral (1988) degrees in veterinary pathology. He operates a drug development and pathology consulting company and has a major role in establishing a drug development laboratory in Shanghai.

The 2019 ISU DVM class includes 25 Nebraska residents who started their program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and spent the final two years at Iowa State under a cooperative agreement between the two universities.

Full commencement program available via app

Family members and guests will find the commencement program on a new graduation tile within the ISU Alumni Association's app for mobile devices. The university will print its traditional commencement program for graduating students and ceremony stage officials.

By making this change in an effort to be more green, reduce waste and save money, the university printed about 10,000 fewer 140-page commencement programs this spring, said Registrar Mark Simpson. A trifold abbreviated program that outlines the ceremony and includes a message from Wintersteen will be available for guests at all four ceremonies.

“A lot of institutions are looking to do an electronic version of their commencement program,” Simpson said. “We think students are going to be excited about this option, which really meets them where they are.”

Search for “Iowa State Alumni” in the iTunes and Google Play stores to download the free app. The ISU Alumni Association, which built the app following a bid process, provides details on its website. (Note: The graduation tile within the app does not require ISUAA membership.) This video explains how the app works. 

Emily Kieffer, manager of member services for the ISU Alumni Association, encourages everyone to download the app before entering Hilton Coliseum. "Once you are in Hilton, everything will use offline capability. Therefore, connection issues should not be a problem as long as the app is downloaded before you enter the building," Kieffer said.

Simpson said the full program will be posted as a PDF on the registrar’s website, and his office will hold about 200 extra printed copies. To request a copy, contact the registrar at 515-294-1840.

Other graduation events

The Lavender Graduation ceremony, honoring graduating members of Iowa State’s LGBTQIA+ community, will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, May 9, in the Memorial Union Sun Room.

Colleges will also honor their graduates during informal convocations and receptions Friday and Saturday.

Livestream details

All commencement ceremonies will be livestreamed. Links are on the Graduation & Commencement page.