University News

WIU Fall 2022 Commencement Dec. 17

December 5, 2022

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL — A ceremony recognizing the academic and personal accomplishments of Western Illinois University students and alumni will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17 in Macomb. This ceremony will recognize graduates at all levels from both the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses.

The number of students eligible to participate in the Fall 2022 Commencement ceremony is 765, which includes 461 undergraduate students, of which 46 are in the Bachelor of Arts in General Studies degree program; 298 are master's-level graduate students; and six students are earning their doctoral degree in educational leadership (Ed.D.): Danielle L. Arnold (Deerfield, IL); Meghan Bagby (Peoria, IL); David Joseph Johnson (Peoria, IL); Joseph Mullikin (Rockford, IL); Teri Lynn Rossman (Peru, IL); and Jeffrey Scott Utsinger (Canton, IL).

Ceremony Live Streams
The ceremonies will be available via livestream on WIU's YouTube channel.

Commencement Program
This semester's Commencement programs are available online at

Distinguished Alumni

This year's Alumni Achievement recipients are Diane K. Rutledge, a partner with District Leadership Solutions; and John E. Sanders, senior business consultant for American Solutions for Business. The recipients will be recognized at the 10 a.m. ceremony.

Western's Alumni Achievement Award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions in one or more of the following: exceptional accomplishment in one's chosen field of endeavor; exceptional service in community affairs at the local, state or national levels; or exceptional service in support of the advancement and continued excellence of WIU.

Diane K. Rutledge

Rutledge, a 1972 elementary education graduate, has served as a partner with District Leadership Solutions since 2017 and is also the sustainability coordinator at the Regional Office of Education #17, a position she has held since 2018. Previously, Rutledge was the executive director of the Large Unit District Association, and also served in a variety of administrative roles since 1979, including superintendent, serving for five years with the Springfield School District, as assistant superintendent of schools, principal and assistant principal. Rutledge began her career as a teacher in 1972 at Dubois Elementary School.

Rutledge has received numerous excellence in education awards and women in leadership awards for her work in education and within her communities, including the recent 2022 Athena Leadership Award for her professional excellence, community service and assisting women in reaching professional excellence. In her community, she is the former chair of the Memorial Health System Board of Directors, and has served on numerous boards and organizations in the Springfield (IL) region.

While at WIU, she was involved in the elementary education department and Bennett Hall activities. Rutledge has been very supportive of her alma mater over the years with contributions to scholarships and the Curriculum and Instruction department. She is currently working with the School of Nursing to help develop a pipeline of nurses between WIU and Memorial Health System in Springfield.

John E. Sanders

Sanders, a 1974 business graduate, is a senior major gifts officer for the global non-profit Lutheran Hour Ministries and a consultant for American Solutions for Business, both in St. Louis (MO). Following his graduation from Western, Sanders has had a successful career in sales and business development. He began his career with Moore Business Forms, prior to founding the full-service marketing company, SWM, Inc. in 1981. His firm was recognized locally and nationally, receiving the St. Louis Small Business Award by the St. Louis Business Journal and attaining INC 500 status as one of the Fastest Growing Companies in America, and #1 in Missouri in 1987. Sanders sold SWM in 2006, but has continued to work as a business consultant focusing on integrating marketing and technology solutions for private, public and non-profit organizations on a regional and national level.

Sanders was a four-year starter and captain of the WIU Soccer Team. The All-Time leading scorer when he finished his soccer career, he was one of the youngest Leatherneck athletes, and one of the first soccer players, inducted into the Western Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame (1988). Sanders was also one of the leaders of the fundraising campaign to construct a new field, which was named after famed WIU Soccer Coach John Mackenzie. Sanders was as a member of the WIU Alumni Council for 13 years, including a term as president from 2018-2020, during which he led the council and Alumni Association through a challenging time in WIU's history. Sanders' leadership was instrumental in laying the foundation for the success that Western enjoys today. He and his wife, Kathie (WIU '74), are longtime members of the Leatherneck Club, and he is a frequent presenter for WIU business classes.

Sanders has served in leadership positions with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Autism Speaks, The Backstoppers, The Adoption Exchange and more. He has coached youth baseball teams over the years, and was inducted into the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame in 2011.


The flags of 11 nations representing the Fall 2022 graduating class will be displayed. Sponsored by Western's Center for International Studies, the flags, represent the following countries: Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, India, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Senegal.

Western was home to students from 59 countries during the Fall 2022 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 are for the University, the School of Graduate Studies, as well as for 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); the Centennial Honors College and WIU Libraries.

Photographs of each graduate will be taken as they receive their diploma cover. Proof sheets will be mailed from Western's Photography and Design Production office to each graduate, with instructions for ordering photos.

Open Ceremonies; ADA Requests

An interpreter will sign each ceremony and assistive listening devices will be available to the public at the table south of the stage in Western Hall.

Disability Accommodations

Students who need accommodations to participate in the ceremony should contact the Student Development and Success Center at (309) 298-1884. Staff will be available at all commencement ceremonies to provide assistance with disability seating for guests.

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