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Skidmore College

A guide to Skidmore Commencement regalia

May 21, 2021
by Julia Marco | Illustrations by Melissa Haas

You've heard the proclamation: Creative Thought Matters. It’s the thread that ties us together as a community while simultaneously emboldening us to celebrate our differences. 

Skidmore's Commencement day is a living example of that core conviction, and you don't have to look much further than to the regalia Skidmore graduates wear to see how. 

A community of individuals

At Commencement, all Skidmore graduates don the same matching black caps and gowns, uniting them as the Class of 2021 and connecting them with college graduates throughout history. 

But they also wear symbols of individual accomplishment — sashes, hoods, stoles and cords in red, purple, yellow, pink, teal, blue, white, green and gold — and creative expression — a decorated mortarboard, a flower lei or perhaps a bedazzled robe.  

Those wearing each item may represent the shared experience of hundreds or the unique experience of one individual. 

In one brief ceremony, the unique stories of individual students come together to complete Skidmore's chapter on the Class of 2021. 

For more on the historic symbolism behind Skidmore Commencent attire, we've put together this guide. 

2021 Face masks
Commencement masksAlready set to be a Commencement we will never forget, this year will also stand out in Skidmore's history as graduates  cross the stage wearing face masks, which have helped us get through this pandemic and also symbolize the experiences of the past year. A sign also of class members’ commitment to one another, graduates voted on a design and can choose the color they would like to wear. 


While all graduates will wear the traditional black undergraduate robe, Skidmore uses hoods to symbolically recognize whether a student has earned a Bachelor's of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree.

Multifaceted academic experienced are further celebrated through distinct medals, pins and cords that are bestowed upon graduates at special pre-Commencement ceremonies such as Honors Convocation.

Illustration of black commencement gowns with yellow and white hoods
White or yellow Hoods 

Those receiving a Bachelor of Arts will don hoods trimmed in white, a color representing the arts. Those earning a Bachelor of Science will don hoods trimmed with golden yellow, a color symbolizing the sciences.

Illustration of a gold medallion on a green ribbonGold medallions on green straps  

Periclean Honors Forum 

Seniors wearing this medallion are members of the Periclean Honors Forum. To be a member, they must complete Honors Forum courses, a senior-year capstone experience and an approved citizenship project. They must also demonstrate exemplary academic and social integrity and have a final GPA of 3.5 or higher with no history of two consecutive semesters below 3.5. 

Italian flag lapel pin illustrationFlag lapel pins 

Study abroad countries  

Seniors from the Class of 2021 studied abroad in 50 different countries. Those who participated in an international or domestic off-campus program through Skidmore may wear a flag of the host nation where they studied.  

Red commencement cord

Red Cords

All college honors 
Seniors with distinguished academic records who are graduating cum laude (3.650–3.749 GPA), magna cum laude (3.750–3.899 GPA) or summa cum laude (3.900–4.000 GPA).

My cords are humbling and surreal. Before Skidmore, I feel like no one really took the time to get to know me or see what I had to offer. But I've been recognized here by my peers, faculty and school community just for being myself, and working extremely hard. That is a very special feeling — being recognized for being me."
Eliza Kuperschmid '21

Purple commencement cord

Purple Cords

Departmental honors 

For seniors who meet various criteria or achieve academic standing specific to their department or program. While the qualifications differ, many involve having a GPA of 3.5 or higher for all work in the major, the completion of a capstone or thesis, a GPA of 3.0 or higher on all Skidmore work and approval by the department’s faculty.

Teal commencement cord

Teal Cords, blue Cords, pink Cords and more  

Various honor societies  

For the hundreds of graduating seniors who have been inducted into various honor societies for high academic achievement.

Some of these include Alpha Kappa Delta (sociology), Delta Phi Alpha (German), Eta Sigma Phi (classics), Nu Rho Psi (neuroscience), Omicron Delta Epsilon (economics), Phi Alpha Theta (history), Phi Beta Kappa (all college), Pi Delta Phi (French), Pi Mu Epsilon (math), Pi Sigma Alpha (political science), Psi Chi (psychology), Sigma Delta Pi (world languages) and Sigma Pi Sigma (physics).  



These cords and stoles are worn by seniors who wish to carry symbols of diversity with them at Commencement.

They were given by the Offices of the Dean of Students and Student Diversity Programs at two small ceremonies prior to Commencement.

As the first child in my family to graduate from college, this is meaningful not only for me, but for the community from which I've come in pursuit of greater opportunity.
Peris Tushabe '21

Lavender commencement cord

Rainbow or lavender Cords 

LGBTQIA+ pride 

For seniors who wish to signify pride in being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and in their achievements despite the obstacles they may have experienced. 

Blue and white cord


Jewish student life

For seniors who wish to signify being active members of the Jewish community, continuing their journey of practice, learning and Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).

Blue and Orange cord


Christian Fellowship

For seniors who wish to signify being actively involved in Skidmore Christian Fellowship.  

Purple and green cord

gREEN AND Purple Cords


For seniors who have led STEMpathy, a campus organization that supports students of color in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Blue and white cord


Opportunity Program

For seniors who wish to signify their involvement with the Opportunity Program at Skidmore, celebrating their academic achievements despite barriers placed before them.

Commencement sash with an international flag pattern
Stoles with Flags, stripes or a rainbow of colors 

International students 

Members of the Class of 2021 come from 43 different countries. Skidmore offers, and many international seniors choose to wear, a stole inspired by the flag of their home country, a nod to where their stories began. Flags of their countries will also be featured on the Commencement stage. 


Illustration of a Commencement stole with yellow and green weaveStoles with a Yellow and green woven pattern 

First-generation students 

Seniors wearing this stole are part of the first generation in their family to graduate from a four-year college. Many choose to wear this stole to celebrate their accomplishments and the hurdles they have overcome.  

Sash with the traditional colors of Kente, red, yellow, gold and blackBLUE OR BLACK Stoles with Red, GREEN and gold STRIPES

Students of color 

The symbolism of the Kente is hundreds of years old, dating back to the legend of Ananse the spider in Ghana. Today, Kente cloth designs vary and different designs and colors carry special meanings and stories.

Many students from various cultural and ethnic heritages choose to wear this stole to acknowledge their ancestry, celebrate their pride and stand in solidarity with graduates of color at Skidmore and across generations.  


Student life and leadership

Representing or serving the Skidmore community — through student government, athletics, club leadership or other college service — is a significant point of pride for many graduates and the College. In turn, there are a number of unique stoles and cords students can wear that honor their efforts.  

Sash that's green with yellow lettering that reads Skidmore AthleticsGreen Stoles with the Thoroughbred logo 


Seniors wearing this stole are members of one of Skidmore’s 19 varsity teams. The stole symbolizes each student’s dedication to excelling on and off the field and in their classrooms, laboratories and studios.


“My involvement in Skidmore Athletics has been an extremely important and worthwhile experience. Wearing the stole at Commencement represents that, plus my appreciation for and pride in being part of the athletics community.”
Brian Kowalski '21
Sash that's green with yellow lettering that reads Skidmore Athletics

Green stole with the skidmore ems logo


For service to the Skidmore community through Skidmore College Emergency Medical Services (SCEMS) team, a New York State basic life-support, first-response agency staffed by trained students.  


Sash that's green with yellow lettering that reads Skidmore Athletics
white stole with the skidmore peer health educators logo

Peer Health Educators 

For seniors who served the community as peer health educators, a volunteer group associated with Skidmore Health Promotions. They help students maintain healthy lifestyles and make safe choices related to sexual health, nutrition, fitness, relationships and more.

Gold commencement cord

Gold Cords

Student government 

For members of the Student Government Association Executive Committee for representing the student body in academic, financial, student life, club and inclusion affairs.

Yellow and green commencement cord

Yellow and green

Senior cord  

For seniors who showed demonstrated interest in furthering Skidmore’s mission by participating in community-building, fundraising and support activities.

Gold and white commencement cord 

Gold and white Cords 

Admissions Ambassadors  

For seniors who have aided the Office of Admissions in growing Skidmore through service as tour guides and hosts of prospective students and families.

White commencement cord
White Cords

Senior Class Council Officers

For senior class officers to recognize their service in representing their peers on student senate and other student engagements.


Green and yellow shoes
Anything one of a kind  

Because Creative Thought Matters 

For seniors who want to express their stories, friend groups, clubs and more as they cross the stage and become alumni of Skidmore College.

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