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Ceremonies recognizing the academic and personal accomplishments of Western Illinois University students and alumni will be held Friday-Saturday, Dec. 18-19 in Macomb during Western's Fall 2015 Commencement Weekend.
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Using the hashtag #WIUGrad15, Western Illinois University grads shared their own commencement experiences on Twitter and Instagram during the Spring 2015 ceremonies. See their experiences on Storify at storify.com/WIU/your-wiu-spring-15-commencement-weekend.
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WIU 2015 Fall Honors, Commencement Ceremonies Dec. 18-19

December 7, 2015


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MACOMB, IL – Ceremonies recognizing the academic and personal accomplishments of Western Illinois University students and alumni will be held Friday-Saturday, Dec. 18-19 in Macomb during Western's Fall 2015 Commencement Weekend.

At 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, the Academic Honors Convocation will be held in Western Hall. This ceremony recognizes college scholars, departmental scholars, honors scholars and candidates who have earned academic distinction throughout their Western Illinois University undergraduate careers. Students receive a medallion for each honor, which they wear at Saturday's Commencement ceremonies.

The number of students eligible to participate in Fall 2015 Commencement Ceremonies—scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19 in Western Hall—is 1,056, which includes nearly 772 undergraduate students, of which 80 students are in the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies degree program (formerly the Board of Trustees Bachelor of Arts degree program), as well as 242 master's-level graduate students and five students earning their doctorate degrees in educational leadership (Ed.D.). They are: Susan B. Cohoon (Burlington, IA), Crystal Lee Johnson (Rossville, IL), Kristen Kendrick-Weikle (Forsyth, IL), Sandra L. Malahy (Davenport, IA) and Darlene Mae von Behren (Woodridge, IL). The combined ceremonies will include presenting graduating seniors their diploma covers and hooding graduate degree candidates.

Doctor of Humane Letters Recipient

WIU alumnus Kirk Dillard will receive the Western Illinois University Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at Western's 9:30 a.m. Fall 2015 Commencement Ceremony. He will deliver the keynote address at the ceremony. The Honorary Doctorate is the highest award Western Illinois University can bestow upon an individual who has made significant contributions to his/her career and to Western Illinois University.

Dillard, who received his bachelor's degree in political science from WIU in 1977, is chair of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in metropolitan Chicago, which is the nation's second largest mass transit system. Dillard is also a partner in the Chicago office of one of the world's largest law firms, Locke Lord LLP. For nearly 20 years, Dillard was a state senator representing Chicagoland's west suburbs. He served as the Senate GOP Whip and was the co-chair of the Judiciary committee, chair of the Local Government Committee, and chair of the High Technology Task Force. He also served on the Executive Appointments Committee, along with many other committees. Dillard was the sponsor of Illinois' first major campaign finance and ethics reform in 25 years, as well as sponsor of the law granting WIU its own governing board.

Alumni Achievement Awards

The outstanding accomplishments of Western Illinois University graduates George O. Baughman, a 1960 education graduate and a 1967 education master's degree graduate who is retired after 37 years as a teacher, coach, administrator, adviser and class sponsor at Lewiston (IL) High School; Steven L. Nelson, a 1970 history graduate who has been an attorney and shareholder with Califf and Harper in Moline (IL), specializing in civil and commercial litigation, banking and financial institutions, bankruptcy, workers' compensation and real estate; John C. Passananti, a 1975 physical education graduate who is the founder and senior managing partner of Business Strategies Group of Illinois at AXA Advisors; and Michael J. Thomas, a 1986 sport management program graduate who served as the director of athletics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from 2011-2015, will be recognized Saturday, Dec. 19 at WIU's Fall 2015 Commencement Exercises. Baughman will be recognized at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony, and Nelson, Passananti and Thomas will be recognized at the 1 p.m. ceremony.

Honors, Commissioning and Commencement Ceremonies

Events scheduled for Friday-Saturday, Dec. 18-19 include the following:

5:30 p.m. Academic Honors Convocation (Dec. 18), Western Hall
College, Honors and Departmental Scholars and students with academic distinction based on grade point average (GPA) will receive a medallion for each academic honor. Graduating senior Brock Daniel Merritt (Eureka, IL) is the convocation speaker and will deliver his speech, "Keep Your Eyes Skyward." President Thomas will deliver, "Choice, Not Chance" to the graduating class. The national anthem singer is Stephanie M. Ricoy (Chicago, IL), musical theatre (Bachelor of Fine Arts), Class of 2015. Marshals are: Kirsten Belisle (Roscoe, IL), history; Joshua Diaz (Tinley Park, IL), chemistry; Hannah Drake (Charleston, IL), forensic chemistry; J. Eduardo Garcia (Aurora, IL), economics; Shyenne Horras (Machesney Park, IL), marketing; and Mason Rueger (Normal, IL), economics/accounting.

3:45 p.m. Army ROTC Commissioning (Dec. 18), University Union Brattain Lounge
One Army ROTC cadet will be commissioned to active or reserve duty as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Commencement Ceremonies (Dec. 19), Western Hall
Interim Provost Kathleen Neumann will serve as master of ceremonies for each ceremony. Greetings will be given by Roger Clawson, chair of the Board of Trustees, and President Thomas will present remarks at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony and his address "Are You a Realist?: Real Knowledge, Real People and Real Life" at the 1 p.m. ceremony. WIU Alumnus Kirk Dillard will deliver the keynote address at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony.

The 2015 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Western Illinois University Professor of Journalism and Public Relations Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi will be recognized at each ceremony. The Western Illinois University Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Colin Weber, guest conductor, will perform the music, and Samuel Twining (Sterling, IL), musical theatre, will sing the national anthem at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Alison Faye Huntley (New Lenox, IL), music education, will sing the national anthem at the 1 p.m. ceremony.

The 9:30 a.m. commencement ceremony will recognize graduate and undergraduate candidates in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business and Technology, as well as candidates in the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies and in Interdisciplinary Studies. Baughman will receive his Alumni Achievement award.

Marshals, who are graduating seniors selected from the top scholars earning high academic distinction, guide the graduating class, faculty and stage party from the processional to the recessional. They are: Adrianna Czerlonko (Des Plaines, IL), forensic chemistry; Thomas Michael Dudley (Moline, IL), supply chain management; Eric Reece Haaksma (Frankfort, IL), biological sciences; Reagan Hamm (Macomb, IL), computer science; Dayna J. Heaton (Industry, IL), accounting; Charissa Kay Sanders (Rock Island, IL), accounting; Abby Jean Wilson (Rock Island, IL), supply chain management; and Jacob Andrew Winters (Galesburg, IL), mathematics.

The 1 p.m. commencement ceremony will recognize the Doctorate in Educational Leadership candidates and graduate and undergraduate candidates in the College of Education and Human Services and the College of Fine Arts and Communication. Nelson, Passananti and Thomas will receive their Alumni Achievement awards.

Marshals are: Hannah Rose Blum (Paxton, IL), music education; Danielle Eckels (Quincy, IL), elementary education; Logan Thomas Griffith (Dixon, IL), art; Whitney Loring Kimbrough (Galesburg, IL), social work; Kayleigh Nicole Marcotte (Springfield, IL), elementary education; Steven T. Olson (Moline, IL), music education; Gina Susan Scaffidi (Brookfield, WI), exercise science; and Micah Russel Stewart (Algonquin, IL), broadcasting.

International Flags

The flags of 14 nations represented by the Fall 2015 graduating class will be displayed in the arena. Sponsored by Western's Center for International Studies, the flags represent the following countries: China, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, France, Ghana, India, Italy, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan and the United States. Western Illinois University was home to students from 55 countries during the Fall 2015 semester.

Gonfalons and Gonfaloniers

Gonfalons, which are banners hung from a crossbar on poles, made their inaugural appearance in the Fall 2009 Commencement ceremonies. Western Illinois University gonfalons represent the University overall, the School of Graduate Studies, as well as each of the four academic colleges: Arts and Sciences (white); Business and Technology (royal blue); Education and Human Services (UN blue); and Fine Arts and Communication (spice brown). Those who are chosen to carry the gonfalons are called "gonfaloniers." This honor has been awarded to the following faculty members by ceremony:

9:30 a.m. ceremony
Rafael Obregon, associate professor of engineering technology, College of Business and Technology; Katharine Pawelko, professor of recreation, park and tourism administration, College of Education and Human Services; Justin Ehrlich, assistant professor of computer science, College of Business and Technology; and Tawyna Adkins Covert, professor of sociology, College of Arts and Sciences.

1 p.m. ceremony
Rafael Obregon, associate professor of engineering technology, College of Business and Technology; Katharine Pawelko, professor of recreation, park and tourism administration, College of Education and Human Services; James Caldwell, professor of music, College of Fine Arts and Education; and Gary Daytner, associate professor of educational studies, College of Education and Human Services.

Live Broadcast/Web Stream

Western's University Television (UTV) will broadcast the Academic Honors Convocation and each Commencement ceremony live on Macomb's cable channel 3. The Macomb ceremonies will also be streamed live on the web. A link to the web broadcast will be available from Western's homepage (wiu.edu) during the time of the ceremonies.

DVDs and Photos

DVDs of the ceremonies may be purchased through UTV, telephone (309) 298-1880. Photographs of each graduate will be taken as they receive their diploma covers. Proof sheets will be mailed from Western's Visual Production Center to each graduate, with instructions for ordering photos.

Open Ceremonies; ADA Requests

Ceremonies are open to family and friends of the graduates. Tickets are not required; seating is on a first come basis. Doors open 90 minutes before each ceremony. An interpreter will sign each ceremony and assistive listening devices will be available to the public at the information table in the north lobby of Western Hall. There are a limited number of disability seats, and individuals in need of special accommodations for the ceremonies should contact Western's Office of Equal Opportunity and Access at (309) 298-1977. Office hours are 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

For more information, visit wiu.edu/commencement.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations