University News

Ceremonies recognizing the academic and personal accomplishments of Western Illinois University students and alumni will be held Friday-Saturday, Dec. 16-17 in Macomb during Western's Fall 2016 Commencement Weekend.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

WIU 2016 Fall Honors, Commencement Ceremonies Dec. 16-17

December 9, 2016

Printer friendly version

MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – Ceremonies recognizing the academic and personal accomplishments of Western Illinois University students and alumni will be held Friday-Saturday, Dec. 16-17 in Macomb during Western's Fall 2016 Commencement Weekend.

At 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, 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 2016 Commencement Ceremonies — scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 in Western Hall — is 958, which includes nearly 743 undergraduate students, of which 88 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 215 master's-level graduate students and nine students earning their doctorate degrees in educational leadership (Ed.D.). They are: Michael C. Curry (Ipava, IL); Todd Adam Hellrigel (Green Valley, IL); Donna Hildebrand-Veile (Fowler, IL); Jonathan David Hill (Dunlap, IL); Carol Lynn Kilver (Bluffs, IL); Georgianna Lee Koenig (Davenport, IA); Michael William Loftin (Beecher, IL); Darrick Allan Reiley (Bartonville, IL); and Eric Trimberger (Skokie, IL).

The combined ceremonies will include presenting graduating seniors their diploma covers and hooding graduate degree candidates.

Alumni Achievement Awards

The outstanding accomplishments of five Western Illinois University graduates will be recognized Saturday, Dec. 17 at WIU's Fall 2016 Commencement Exercises. The award winners are: LaVerne Council, a 1983 business graduate, who serves as the assistant secretary for information and technology and chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.; Mary Huffman, a 2001 and 2008 education graduate, who has taught fifth grade at Charles Pinckney Elementary School in Mt. Pleasant (SC) since 2004 and who was recognized as the National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (New York, NY) in 2015; Martin E. O'Connor, a 1978 agriculture graduate, who has served as president of O'Connor Consulting and Management (OCM), Inc., an organization providing consultant services to the meat and livestock industries for national and international compliance with regulatory and contracting requirements since July 2012, and who was employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for 34 years, retiring as director of the livestock and meat standardization division in Washington, D.C.; Douglas E. Reese, a 1985 finance and 1986 MBA graduate, the founder of Wealth Associates, Inc., in Denver (CO), and who, for 30 years, has served as a financial advisor and investment manager to families and businesses; and Frank Stanczyk, a 1961 biological sciences graduate, a member of the University of Southern California (USC) School of Medicine, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility (REI), faculty since 1974, and who was named professor of research in 1994 and director of the research laboratory in 1996.

O'Connor, Reese and Stanczyk will be recognized at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony, and Council and Huffman will be recognized at the 1 p.m. ceremony.

Honors, Commissioning and Commencement Ceremonies

Events scheduled for Friday, Dec. 16 include the following:

3:45 p.m. Army ROTC Commissioning, University Union Brattain Lounge

Two Army ROTC cadets will be commissioned to active or reserve duty as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

5:30 p.m. Academic Honors Convocation, 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.

Interim Provost Kathleen Neumann will serve as master of ceremonies for the convocation ceremony and each commencement ceremony. Greetings will be given by Cathy Early, chair of the Board of Trustees, for each ceremony. President Jack Thomas will deliver remarks to the graduating class.

Graduating senior Jane E. Marshall (Keokuk, IA) is the convocation speaker and will deliver her speech, "Added Value." The national anthem singer is Sarah Elizabeth Bertram (Pontiac, IL), musical theatre (Bachelor of Fine Arts), Class of 2016. Marshals are: Stellera English (Bushnell, IL), dietetics, Natasha Frig (LaSalle, IL), forensic chemistry; Devin Johnson (Glenarden, MD), human resource management; Emily Thomas (Hampton, IL), chemistry and mathematics; Joshua Webb (Astoria, IL), law enforcement and justice administration; and Andrea Wolinski (Elk Grove Village, IL), law enforcement and justice administration.

Commencement Ceremonies

President Thomas will present remarks to the graduating class at the 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. ceremonies.

The 2016 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Western Illinois University Professor of Psychology Sandra L. McFadden will be recognized at each ceremony.

The Western Illinois University Concert Band, under the direction of Matt Thomas, conductor, will perform the music, and Savannah Bay Strandin (Rockford, IL), musical theatre, Class of 2016, will sing the national anthem at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Kellie Anne Nolan (Bloomington, IL), musical theatre, Class of 2016, 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. O'Connor, Reese and Stanczyk will receive their Alumni Achievement awards.

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: Jody S. Beckman (Camp Point, IL), biology; Alexander James Breckenridge (Colchester, IL), sociology; Nicholas Breslin (Galesburg, IL), physics; Tabetha Lynn Dungan (Brimfield, IL), accountancy; Dalton Aaron Jackson (Virginia, IL), computer science; Emily Suzanne Nation (Taylorville, IL), accountancy; Sarah A. Sikula (Weston, OH), supply chain management; and Kylie R. Wilson (Macomb, IL), biology.

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. Council will be recognized for her Alumni Achievement award. Huffman will receive her Alumni Achievement award.

Marshals are: Daniel Thomas Birt (Chicago, IL), law enforcement and justice admistration; Xitong Chen (Shanghai, China), journalism; Sarah Griffin (Wheaton, IL), recreation, park and tourism administration; Cassandra Frances Kelly (Bettendorf, IA), elementary education; Robert T. Kinzenbaw (Bettendorf, IA), elementary education; Kellie Anne Nolan (Bloomington, IL), musical theatre; Taylor Paige Stone (Coal Valley, IL), music; and Andie Villez (Shawano, WI), fashion merchandising.

International Flags

The flags of 16 nations represented by the Fall 2016 graduating class will be displayed in the arena. Sponsored by Western's Center for International Studies, the flags represent the following countries: Canada, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Togo, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United States. Western Illinois University was home to students from 64 countries during the Fall 2016 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:

  • Febe Pamonag, associate professor of history, College of Arts and Sciences;
  • Ryan Hunt, associate professor in management and marketing, College of Business and Technology;
  • Mark Cole, associate professor of kinesiology, College of Education and Human Services;
  • Yong Tang, assistant professor in broadcasting and journalism, College of Fine Arts and Education;
  • Katharine Pawelko, professor of recreation, park and tourism administration, School of Graduate Studies; and
  • Shawn Meagher, professor of biology, WIU.

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 ( 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

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg (
Office of University Communications & Marketing