A Graduation Tradition Moves Online: Gonfalonieres and Guardians of the Gonfalon

As the pomp and pageantry of commencement move online in the face of COVID-19 and physical distancing guidelines, so does the alumni community’s role of helping out and supporting students.

Each year the UW’s schools and colleges select students to lead their degree candidates during the commencement procession. These students are called gonfalonieres, because they carry the school’s gonfalon, a banner that hangs down from a crosspiece and bears that school’s name and symbol. Following tradition borrowed from the Italian Renaissance, the gonfalonieres represent some of the UW’s most accomplished students.

Alumni volunteers watch over the banners during the ceremony, so that the gonfalonieres can enjoy their graduation experience. These volunteers are called Guardians of the Gonfalon, and they have been part of graduation exercises for more than 20 years. 

Even though this year’s commencement will be held online, the UWAA is proud to share the stories of these exceptional students and alumni. In preparation for the big day, we asked all of them to share their UW background, including special memories and advice they would like to share with future Huskies.

Here they are, in order of their place in the traditional commencement procession:

College of Built Environments

Arts and Sciences

Foster School of Business




Graduate School

Information School

School of Law

School of Medicine

School of Nursing

College of the Environment


Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

School of Public Health

School of Social Work