Formal Traditions




The seniors are “capped” on the evening before Commencement. This tradition dates to the early days of the College when each graduate selected one younger student to place the traditional mortarboard upon her head. Today, each senior selects two or three freshmen or other women who are special to her. Only women participate in Capping; faculty and administrative staff of the College do not cap students. This ceremony is held on the front steps of Main Hall, weather permitting, and all participants are dressed in traditional white.


On Sunday morning following spring final exams, Cottey College enjoys Commencement. Graduating students in white caps and gowns and carrying daisies proceed through a chain formed by white-clad firstyear students. The Commencement ceremony includes the Cottey choir, an address, granting of degrees and the Alma Mater. First-year students then pick up the daisies the second-year students carried into the building and form the traditional chain for the new graduates as they recess.

Family Weekend

In early October, family members are invited to campus for a weekend of special activities. The first Family Weekend was held in 1984.

Formal Drawing

Held at the beginning of the fall semester, each freshman is chosen at random or by legacy to become a member of the Alphan, Delphian, Emerson, or Magnoperian Socieities.

Founder’s Day

Founder’s Day is celebrated each year in late March or early April. The observance began while the College’s founder, Virginia Alice Cottey, was alive. It was originally a celebration of her birthday which is March 27, 1848. Today, alumnae return to visit their alma mater, attend special events, and renew friendships.

Hawaiian Leis

Two Hawaiian leis are provided each year by P.E.O. Chapter C, Honolulu, Hawaii. They are presented at Honors and Awards Convocation on Commencement Weekend and are worn at Capping and Commencement. The First Lei Award is presented to the graduate with the highest scholastic average. The Second Lei Award is presented to the graduate considered by vote of the faculty to be outstanding in the areas of leadership, student government, and academic, social, and community affairs and who best exemplifies the spirit and ideals of Cottey College.

Signing of the Cottey Book

During the first days on campus, all new students participate in this ceremony of honor. Signing of the Cottey Book signifies personal and academic honesty, commitment to the values of the College, and dedication to cooperation for the good of all. New students have signed the Cottey Book since 1935.

Zeran Award

The Margaret Fritchler Zeran Award is presented annually to the graduate judged by the vote of the faculty to approach most nearly an ideal of intellect and spirituality and to have exerted the most wholesome influence on her peers. The award recipient is presented a medal on a ribbon at Honors and Awards Convocation to wear on her robe at Capping and Commencement.