Donning of the Stoles May - Annually

In May of 1993, the first Donning of the Kente Celebration was held at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The ceremony celebrated the academic and personal achievements of students of African descent. Starting from June 2006, W&L began its own celebration, and the university has carried on this tradition ever since. In May 2016, the ceremony extended its invitations to all students from marginalized backgrounds, encompassing various aspects of diversity. In May 2023, the ceremony was renamed the Donning of the Stoles, aligning with the university's commitment to inclusivity. W&L wants to celebrate the breadth of the diversity represented at the university and all the wonderful ways they have enriched our institution.

The ceremony is designed to acknowledge the academic and personal accomplishments of graduates who have overcome barriers often faced by marginalized groups. It also encourages graduates to accept the challenge and responsibility to continue to strive for excellence in their personal, academic, and professional endeavors while serving as a source of motivation for current students to look forward to upon their own graduation. W&L hopes this tradition will strengthen the bond to the institution for the graduates long after their departure.

Recognizing community is one of the central themes of the ceremony. Prior to the program, each participating graduate is asked to designate a family member, friend, or another significant individual to take part in the celebration. During the ceremony, a stole is presented to the graduate's chosen person by a member of the University community, who then bestows the stole upon the graduate with all the appropriate sentiments for this special occasion. This tradition serves to recognize and promote the significance of family, friends, and the "university family" in the graduate's accomplishments. 

View photos from Donning of the Stoles 2023 and watch the Class of 2024 video below.