The Smith Center will be used as a rain location if the University-wide Commencement ceremonies on the National Mall are moved indoors by dangerous weather.
The Smith Center has the capacity to accommodate only 5,000 graduates, faculty and speakers, so families and guests would watch the ceremony via live feeds at alternate viewing sites if weather forced the ceremony to move.
About 25,000 people attend Commencement annually.
The University’s 24-hour phone recording on Commencement Weekend events, reachable at 202-994-5050, will be available starting Monday through May 15 and will be updated to reflect any location or schedule changes. The campus advisories website and WTOP radio, 103.5 FM, will also broadcast updates and public service announcements regarding any last-minute changes.
Assistant Vice President for Events and Venues Michael Peller said the ceremony would only be relocated if the National Park Service orders the University to shift locations due to thunderstorms or life-threatening weather conditions.
The Weather Channel is forecasting thunderstorms for the Friday and Saturday leading up to Commencement and light rain on May 16.
Alternate viewing sites – assigned based on individual colleges’ seating sections – include the Marvin Center, Lisner Auditorium, Funger and Duques halls and the Media and Public Affairs building.
Ross Hall, the Law School building and the Elliott School of International Affairs building are also listed as viewing sites under the alternate plan.