Academic Ceremony Symbols & Traditions


Ovilla Curtain

The Ovilla Curtain is a historic fire curtain stored and maintained by McFarlin Auditorium. This gift to the University is lowered symbolically at the end Opening Convocation, a ceremony in which new students are welcomed to the SMU community. After entering first-year and first-year transfer students have completed the Rotunda Passage and at the conclusion of their Opening Convocation ceremony, the historic Ovilla Curtain is lowered to signify the completion of their initiation.

The History of the Ovilla Curtain

During the 1830's, the parents of Robert McFarlin, for whom the auditorium was named, lived in Ovilla, Texas. There was no Methodist church in the area; instead, the Methodists were served by a circuit rider. The McFarlins gave the circuit rider the land and money to build the Ovilla Methodist Church, pictured on the curtain, which Robert McFarlin attended.

More information on the curtain can be read here.

Future Ceremony Dates

2017-2018 Events


Opening Convocation
Sunday, August 20, 2017
McFarlin Auditorium
5:30 p.m.

December Rotunda Recessional
Friday, December 15, 2017
5:30 p.m.

December Commencement 
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Moody Coliseum
10:00 a.m.

Spring Rotunda Passage
5:00 p.m.

Honors Convocation
Monday, April 17, 2017
McFarlin Auditorium
5:30 p.m.

Baccalaureate Service
Friday, May 19, 2017
McFarlin Auditorium
8:00 p.m.

May Commencement 
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Moody Coliseum
9:00 a.m.