Commencement 2022 Preview

It’s time for the biggest celebration of the year: MBU’s Commencement weekend. Read on for ceremony plans and what’s new in ’22.

MBU’s 180th Commencement will feature two ceremonies: graduate programs on Saturday, and undergraduate on Sunday. Both ceremonies start at 9 a.m. on Page Terrace. (Photo from 2021)

The 180th Commencement

This year MBU is holding two ceremonies: Saturday for graduate programs, and Sunday for undergraduate programs. Both will start at 9 a.m. when graduating students process down Hunt Hill and take their seats on Page Terrace. 

Family and friends have unlimited seating on the hill and the surrounding campus, and there is first-come, first-served access to air conditioned Francis Auditorium to watch on the big screen. The ceremonies will also be livestreamed for those at home.

The university is not requiring COVID precautions like masking indoors at this time, but the Pandemic Team is watching local conditions moving into the weekend. Large crowds are expected for both days, so guests are welcome to mask at any time based on their individual needs.

For all the details about Commencement, including the inclement weather plan, please visit

Last year’s Commencement stage

Honorary Role Now Open to Graduate Students

This year marks the beginning of a new tradition to accompany the Saturday ceremony for graduate programs. 

For the first time, four graduate students will serve as student marshals, helping to keep the proceedings organized and efficient as the Class of 2022 receives their diplomas. 

Marshals are selected based on academic excellence, and designated during the ceremony by gold epaulets on their robes.

Education graduate student Destiny Woodall ’20, MAT ’23 calls being chosen a “great honor” that sparks significant pride in her record of leadership, service, and academic achievement at MBU. Woodall is set to graduate next May with a master’s in secondary English education.

“Since I didn’t have undergraduate graduation due to COVID-19, it will be exciting to see all people from different walks of life get to cross the stage and receive their degrees.”

— Destiny Woodall ’20, MAT ’23, one of MBU’s first-ever graduate marshals

A Milestone Year for VWIL

The Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) is celebrating a unique achievement: The largest number of graduating cadets in history will join the military.

Out of 22 total, 17 VWIL seniors will commission into the armed forces across several branches (nine into the Army; three each into the Navy and Air Force; and two into the Coast Guard). This year’s history-making commissioning rate enters the books at 81%.

VWIL Class of 2022 has the highest commissioning rate in the program’s history.

Psychology major and graduating cadet Maggie Olshove calls the pride she takes in her VWIL classmates “equivalent to the pride I would feel for my own family.” Olshove served as the program’s Class of 2022 president for her entire college career, and is now headed to officer candidate school in the United States Coast Guard.

“We all come from very different backgrounds and have different beliefs,” she said, “but over the past four years we have consistently been able to put aside those differences and come together to support and respect one another.”

The university will celebrate VWIL’s Class of 2022 at the annual Change of Command Parade (followed by individual commissioning ceremonies) at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 13, on SMA Worth Field (rain location: PAC).

“I have always felt a strong need to serve and help other people, and from an early age I knew I wanted to serve my country in some way.” 

— Maggie Olshove ’22, part of VWIL’s record-breaking Class of 2022

First Graduates in Exercise Science

The exercise science major marks its first-ever graduates since opening at the university in fall 2019. Five seniors will earn their degrees in the discipline, which is part of the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences and combines studies in athletics, fitness, and health.  

One senior, Paula White ’22, was most intrigued with untangling the human body’s mysteries, and how physiological systems are inextricably linked with each other. She will continue building expertise in her field through MBU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. 

“The program of exercise science helped prepare me to continue my academic career by teaching me the physiological aspects and functional movements of the human body.” 

— Paula White ’22, DPT ’25, one of the first exercise science majors graduating this year

Graduates by the Numbers

  • Youngest graduate: 18
  • Oldest graduate: 70
  • Home countries farthest away from Staunton: Senegal and Japan
  • Total number of graduates for the 2021–22 academic year: 598

    • Undergraduate programs

      • Residential: 174
      • MBU Online: 149
    • Graduate programs

      • College of Education

        • Master of Arts in Teaching: 24
        • Master of Science: 54
        • Master of Education: 25
      • Master of Business Administration: 17
      • Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences

        • Doctor of Occupational Therapy: 40
        • Doctor of Physical Therapy: 34
        • Master of Science in Physician Assistant: 29
        • Master of Science in Nursing: 3
        • Master of Healthcare Administration: 15
      • Shakespeare and Performance

        • Master of Letters: 24
        • Master of Fine Arts: 10

*Numbers as of 5/9/22.

Congratulations to all 2022 MBU graduates!