Bemidji State University’s 98th Commencement set for May 5

More than 1,000 college graduates have been invited to celebrate the beginning of the rest of their lives at Bemidji State University’s 98th Commencement.

Commencement is Friday, May 5, at Sanford Center, located on First Avenue in Bemidji. A pre-ceremony concert begins at 1 p.m., with the Commencement ceremony beginning at 2 p.m. Central time. BSU’s Commencement ceremony typically lasts about two hours.

Bemidji State’s commencement is free and open to the public; no tickets are required and Sanford Center seating is general admission. Parking at Sanford Center is free, and approximately 1,000 spots are available in the center’s main parking lot. Carpooling is encouraged to minimize overflow parking on the streets, as the parking lot typically fills to capacity. Students and guests may park on campus in the Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex parking lot and carpool from there. No permits are required in university parking lots on Commencement day.

Guest seating

Commencement guests should enter the Sanford Center through Gate 2, through the main concourse. Only the lower bowl of the Sanford Center will be open for seating. Visitors who are hearing-impaired or have other disabilities may enter through Gate 3 for accessible seating in Sections U, V and W. Concessions will be available in the concession stand behind Section U. Parking and assembly information is available on the Commencement website.

Commencement Walk

Commencement will begin shortly before 2 p.m. when Bemidji State faculty and staff will lead the traditional commencement march. Students will exit the Sanford Center through Gate 5 and walk between the center and Lake Bemidji before re-entering through Gate 2 and moving into the arena for commencement. In the event of inclement weather, the walk will take place through the Sanford Center concourse.

Online Streaming

Commencement will again be available through a live online video stream. The stream will be available beginning at 2 p.m. Central time; viewers are encouraged to visit the stream in advance to ensure that necessary plug-ins are present and properly functioning. More information on the web stream is available on the Commencement website.

Distinguished Minnesotan

This year’s commencement address will be delivered by Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Anne K. McKeig, recipient of Bemidji State’s 2017 Distinguished Minnesotan award. McKeig, a member of the White Earth nation, was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Gov. Mark Dayton on Sept. 1, 2016, and is the first American Indian to serve the people of Minnesota as a Supreme Court justice.


Roger Moe, a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees, will also provide remarks at commencement. Moe, currently president of National Strategies, Inc., spent 32 years as a member of the Minnesota Legislature, including 22 as Senate Majority Leader. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Moe to the Board of Trustees in December 2016 to fill a vacancy. His term ends on June 30, 2020.

Commencement Brunch

Each college and department on campus will kick off Commencement day at Bemidji State’s traditional pre-Commencement brunch for graduates and their families. The brunch will be held in both the upper and lower Hobson Memorial Unions from 9:30–11:30 a.m.

The upper union’s Beaux Arts Ballroom will host human performance, sport and health; accountancy; business administration; professional education and graduate studies. College of Arts and Sciences graduates gather in the Lakeside dining area of the lower union. Psychology graduates will gather in the Scandinavian Room, criminal justice majors in the Viking Room and social work majors in Lakeside South. The Department of Integrated Media will gather in the Lakeside Lounge on the upper level, while the School of Technology, Art and Design will gather in the Crying Wolf Room.

Printable maps showing the locations of each major in the lower union may be downloaded from BSU’s Commencement website.

Guest drop-off will be available along Birchmont Drive and accessible parking will be open behind the lower union. Wheelchair access will be provided through both the upper and lower unions. Guides will be available to provide assistance. No tickets are required for the brunch.

No tickets are required for the brunch. Guest drop-off is available along Birchmont Drive, handicapped parking is available behind the Lower Hobson Memorial Union. Wheelchair access will be provided through both the Upper and Lower Hobson Unions. Guides will be available to provide direction and assistance. Please contact Bemidji State dining services at for any special dietary needs.

Tobacco-Free Campus

BSU’s visitors are reminded that our campus is tobacco-free. More information about the university’s tobacco-free policy is available online.


May 5 – 2 p.m. – Bemidji State University’s 98th Commencement ceremony. Location: Sanford Center, 1111 Event Center Drive NE, Bemidji. Admission: free. Information:


Bemidji State University, located in northern Minnesota’s lake district, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. A member of the colleges and universities of Minnesota State, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. Bemidji State has an enrollment of more than 5,100 students and a faculty and staff of more than 550. University signature themes include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and global and multi-cultural understanding.