MACOMB — Approximately 700 graduate and undergraduate candidates joined the ranks of more than 135,000 Western Illinois University alumni during Saturday's commencement ceremonies at Western Hall.
The 9:30 a.m. ceremony was for the College of Business and Technology, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Bachelor of General Studies program and the interdisciplinary studies programs. The 1 p.m. ceremony was for the College of Fine Arts and Communication and the College of Education and Human Services.
WIU Board of Trustees chair Carolyn Ehlert-Fuller and WIU President Jack Thomas gave remarks.
"It's an honor to share this day with you, our undergraduate and graduate degree candidates," Ehlert-Fuller said. "This day is a milestone in your life, be proud of your accomplishments. It's evident just looking into this crowd that your parents, friends and relatives are very proud of you."
Thomas titled his remarks, "Seize the Opportunity” and encouraged degree candidates to "seize the opportunity" to face any challenges that they would come across and to encourage them to thank their parents for the hard work that they put in by taking them out to dinner with the first paycheck and picking up the tab.
"Sometimes you have to preserve and keep on knocking to have opportunity open up a door for you," Thomas said. “Let your passion motivate you to knock on that door and grasp that opportunity.”
Five WIU alumni were honored for their achievements during commencement: James G. Leahy (class of 1985), Dennis R. Papini (class of 1979), Michael G. Steelman (class of 1975), Randall S. Germeraad (class of 1975) and Suzan Nash (class of 1980). Leahy, Papini and Steelman were honored during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony while Germeraad and Nash were honored during the 1 p.m. ceremony.
Ute Chamberlain, associate professor of history at WIU, led the procession of the degree candidates with the WIU gonfalon. Chamberlain, the 2018 faculty recipient of the Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching, was selected for this honor. The other gonfalon carriers included Hoyet Hemphill, professor of instructional design and technology, for the School of Graduate Studies gonfalon; George Mangalaraj, professor of computer science, for the College of Business and Technology gonfalon; Casey LaFrance, associate professor of political science, for the College of Arts and Sciences gonfalon; Stacey Macchi, assistant professor of communication, for the College of Fine Arts and Communication gonfalon; Tracy Davis, professor of educational studies at the Quad Cities campus for the College of Education and Human Services gonfalon.
Rajeev Sawhney, WIU professor of management and marketing, led the faculty with the WIU ceremonial mace. The WIU ceremonial mace was designed by WIU art chair Kat Myers and constructed by Myers with the collaboration of the late WIU alumnus Kenneth B. Epperson using traditional methods with a mobile globe to represent both the past and the future. Sawhney received the honor of carrying the ceremonial mace as the 2018 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.
The national anthem and "Western's Loyalty" was sung by graduate music student Alison Huntley during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony and by undergraduate music degree candidate Benjamin Rodgers with the assistance of the WIU Wind Ensemble and conductor Mike Fansler, WIU professor of music and director of bands.
Thirteen international flags representing the international degree candidates flanked the WIU Wind Ensemble. These included flags from the Bahamas, Bangladesh, China, France, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sri Lanka.
The spring 2019 commencement ceremonies will be May 10, 2019 for the Macomb campus graduate degrees at Western Hall, May 11, 2019 for the Macomb undergraduate degree candidates at Western Hall and May 12, 2019 for the Quad Cities graduate and undergraduate degree candidates at TaxSlayer Center in Moline.

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