University News

WIU 2017 Fall Honors, Commencement Ceremonies Dec. 16-17

November 30, 2017

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - Ceremonies recognizing the academic and personal accomplishments of Western Illinois University students and alumni will be held Friday-Saturday, Dec. 15-16 in Macomb during Western's Fall 2017 Commencement Weekend.

At 5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, 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 undergraduate careers at Western. Students receive a medallion for each honor, which they wear at Saturday's Commencement ceremonies.

The number of students eligible to participate in Fall 2017 Commencement Ceremonies — scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 in Western Hall — is 903, which includes nearly 690 undergraduate students, of which 95 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 213 master's-level graduate students and eight students earning their doctorate degrees in educational leadership (Ed.D.) — they are: Kelle Sue Bunch (Quincy, IL); Sara J. Dail (Sterling, IL); Matthew David DeBaene (Geneseo, IL); Dongjin Kim (Gwangju, South Korea); Anthony McConnell (Lake Villa, IL); George Tucker McKenna (Brimfield, IL) - completed Summer 17; David Morris (Buffalo Grove, IL); Lawrence Sasso (Park Ridge, IL) and Jeffrey Ronald Schagrin (Libertyville, 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 WIU graduates will be recognized during Saturday's Commencement ceremonies. This year's Alumni Achievement recipients are Scott D. Clarke, a 1981 political science graduate, who is the former assistant director of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Banking; John A. Elliott, a 1965 social studies graduate, who is the CEO emeritus of Petermann, LTD; David L. Harlow, a 1982 law enforcement and justice administration graduate, who is acting director of the U.S. Marshals Service; Jeffery L. McElroy, a 1997 communication graduate, who is an attorney at the McElroy Law Office; and Frank E. Rodeffer, a 1961 physics graduate, who is retired from the United States Air Force and is senior project manager for Strategic Nuclear C3 Systems at Northrop Grumman.

Clarke and McElroy will be recognized during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony, and Elliott, Harlow and Rodeffer will be recognized during the 1 p.m. ceremony.

Honors, Commissioning and Commencement Ceremonies

Events scheduled for Friday, Dec. 15 include the following:

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

One Army ROTC cadet will be commissioned to the Illinois National Guard 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 and Academic Vice President 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 Maureen Doran, an honors scholar in Music, is the convocation speaker and will deliver her speech "The Purple and Gold Brick Road." The national anthem singer is Hollyn Beans (Greenville, IL), musical theatre (Bachelor of Fine Arts), Class of 2017. Marshals are: Maria Bessmertnaya (Russia), accountancy; Demri Cameron (Astoria, IL), education; Hilary Dunn (South Elgin, IL), psychology; Natasha Kelch (Peoria, IL), psychology, and Trenton Schmit (Saint Charles, IL) political science.

Commencement Ceremonies

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

The 2017 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer, WIU Professor of Geography Christopher J. Sutton, will be recognized at each ceremony.

The Western Illinois University Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Richard Hughey, conductor, will perform the music, and Sarah Anderson (Quincy, IL), music education, Class of 2017, will sing the national anthem at the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Gabriel A. Rackers (Wentzville, MO), music business, Class of 2017, 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. Clarke and McElroy 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: Mary Anderson (Colorado Springs, CO), graphic communication; Catherine L. Andreadis (United Kingdom), biology; Emanuela I. Bruce (Rochester, IL) Spanish education; Emily A. Henderson (Canton, IL), biology; Mary Beth Marie Lane (Maryville, TN), history; Patrick R. Quinlan (Parker, CO), economics and political science; Rachael A. Sampson (Petersburg, IL), agriculture; and Mattea M. Scanlan (Platteville, WI) chemistry.

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. Elliott, Harlow and Rodeffer will receive their Alumni Achievement Awards.

Marshals are: Danielle D. Barnes (Macomb), social work; Emily A. Bozard (Macomb), social work; Cassandra A. Camis (Aurora, IL), law enforcement and justice administration; Maureen A. Doran (Odell, IL), music education; Cora English (Bushnell, IL), broadcasting; Kaselyn D. Hart (Elmwood, IL), music education; Greg K. Pietrzak (Westmont, IL), family and consumer sciences; and Patrick J. Puckett (Elgin, IL), law enforcement and justice administration.

International Flags

The flags of 16 nations represented by the Fall 2017 graduating class will be displayed in the arena. Sponsored by Western's Center for International Studies, the flags represent the following countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Jamaica, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Western Illinois University was home to students from 62 countries during the Fall 2017 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:

9:30 a.m. Commencement

• Jennifer Plos, associate professor of kinesiology, College of Education and Human Services;

• Jeff Laurent, Graduate Council chair and professor of psychology, College of Arts and Sciences;

• Jonathan Devereueawax, instructor of economics, College of Business and Technology; and

• Andrea Porras-Alfaro, associate professor of biological sciences, College of Arts and Sciences.

1 p.m. Commencement

• Jennifer Plos, associate professor of kinesiology, College of Education and Human Services;

• Jeff Laurent, Graduate Council chair and professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences;

•  Tamara Bories, professor of Kinesiology in the College of Education and Human Services; and

•  Courtney Blankenship, assistant professor of music in the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

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.

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