Opening Convocation

Opening Convocation and Rotunda Passage

Sunday, August 25, 2024
Rotunda Processional at 1-1:30 p.m.  |  Opening Convocation at 1:45 p.m.
McFarlin Auditorium

At this event, students are formally welcomed to the SMU community in a ceremony dating back to 1915, in the very first days of the University. Highlights of this year’s ceremony include a message from SMU’s Provost, Elizabeth G. Loboa, a Convocation address delivered by President R. Gerald Turner, and the presentation to Dr. Turner of the new class of students by Dean of Admission Elena Hicks. The ceremony is designed to set students on their new path of academic discovery.

An important part of Opening Convocation is the Rotunda Passage. On Sunday afternoon prior to the ceremony, students will pass through the rotunda of Dallas Hall, SMU’s first building and a historic landmark. Recognizing that every undergraduate student at SMU has crossed through the Dallas Hall rotunda, students have an opportunity to reflect on their passage to college and their intellectual and personal growth for their time at SMU.

Graduating students confirm year after year that the full impact of Rotunda Passage is not felt until their graduation and the Rotunda Recessional, another SMU tradition when seniors walk through the rotunda of Dallas Hall in reverse and their thoughts turn back to the beginning of their SMU experiences.

It’s a special event you will not want to miss!

Welcome to SMU! New first-year and transfer students are invited to attend Rotunda Processional and Opening Convocation.

For Rotunda Processional, you assemble with your assigned Residential Common and march together to Dallas Hall where you then process through the rotunda with the University seal and proceed to McFarlin Auditorium. Transfer students who are not living on campus should meet with their affiliated Residential Common: Ware.

Opening Convocation begins at the conclusion of the Rotunda Processional and lasts approximately one hour. Appropriate attire for Rotunda Processional and Opening Convocation is summer business casual. Comfortable walking shoes are strongly encouraged.

Parents and guests of incoming first-year or transfer students are invited to attend Opening Convocation. Tickets are not required to attend the ceremony.

Doors to McFarlin open at 12:45 p.m. Guests are encouraged to be seated by 1 p.m. to see their students process into the auditorium. Family and friends can also watch the ceremony via a livestream.

Alumni who are parents of incoming freshmen are welcome to participate as marshals for Opening Convocation. Please contact Amy Thompson at

You are invited to the SMU’s Opening Convocation.

On the afternoon of Opening Convocation, faculty assemble in academic regalia no later than 12:45 p.m. in the basement of McFarlin Auditorium. At approximately 1 p.m., the entering students march through Dallas Hall Rotunda and down the diagonal walk between Dallas Hall and McFarlin Auditorium. Upon entering McFarlin, faculty greet the new students as they enter the lobby. Once all new students have found their seats, the Faculty Marshals line up all faculty and lead the procession to faculty seating. Retired faculty march at the head of the procession followed by in-service faculty and new faculty members.

If you plan to attend Opening Convocation, please RSVP as soon as possible and no later than August 1. An RSVP is necessary to reserve a seat. If you do not RSVP by the deadline, we cannot guarantee you a seat in the faculty section.

Featured speaker

As president of SMU since 1995, R. Gerald Turner is leading an era of unprecedented progress. Under his leadership, the University continues to advance as an institution of national excellence and international renown. SMU’s progress has included increases in average admission test scores, a near tripling of student applications, an increase in enrollment of underrepresented communities up to 33% and a quadrupling of the endowment.