Saturday, May 11, 2019

Students celebrate graduation during the 48th annual UIS Commencement ceremonies

The University of Illinois Springfield held two commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11, 2019, at the Bank of Springfield Center in downtown Springfield. Out of the 1,274 UIS students who were eligible to graduate, 745 participated in the ceremonies.

 UIS Chancellor Susan J. Koch presided over the ceremonies, welcoming thousands of guests. She reflected on the importance of earning a University of Illinois degree and the “pathway to opportunity” that degree will create for the 2019 graduates.

“You will make a difference in the world,” said Koch. “In saying that, I am not talking about an abstract ideal. Each of you—with your own skills, aspirations, contributions and achievements—will leave a mark on this world, and it’s such an honor to know that UIS will have helped play a part in your future success.”

During the second ceremony, Koch presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters to former Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara in appreciation of her inspirational leadership in public service and distinguished contributions to the community and the University of Illinois.

“I cannot even begin to express my feelings of gratitude for this honor,” said Hasara. “It’s been nearly 50 years since my mom offered to help with my 4 children, under 8, so I could enroll in the new university that was about to open here and complete my college degree and fulfill my goal of becoming an elementary school teacher.”

Hasara would go onto be elected to the Sangamon County Board, Sangamon County Circuit Clerk, Illinois House of Representatives and Illinois Senate. She was the first woman to be elected Springfield mayor and served two terms from 1995 to 2003. She also served as a member of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2017.

Koch was joined on stage by University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen during the second ceremony. Killeen spoke about how students have always been at the center of the University of Illinois System’s mission since its founding a century-and-a-half ago.

“We were created to open our doors wide to every deserving student, not just the privileged few, providing an education that would transform their lives, one by one, and collectively sendoff new waves of talent year after year to lift the fortunes of our state, our nation and our world,” he said.

The student commencement address was delivered by Jeffrey Nevins, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication. He currently works as the technical director/show systems manager at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Nevins reflected on his educational journey at UIS, which started in 1994.

“I’ve finally finished,” he said. “In that 25 years, I’ve learned a lot – both in school and out. So, like every other middle–aged white guy you’ve ever met I’m going to regale you with all of my wisdom. And as an added bonus, it’s in the form of a numbered list!”

Nevins went onto share his list of wisdom on topics ranging from self-care, to always sitting in the front row and always backing up your files. He also told the audience that you’re “never done learning,” “no means no” and “it is far better to be kind than right.”

“Congratulations to my fellow 2019 graduates,” he said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to learn alongside of you. And in the words of Abraham Lincoln: ‘I bid you God-speed.’”

Dignitaries on stage during the ceremony included faculty grand marshal Hilary Frost, associate professor of political science; Shaina Humphrey, UIS student trustee on the University of Illinois Board of Trustees; Jeffrey Lorber, vice chancellor for advancement and senior vice president of the University of Illinois Foundation; Pattie Piotrowski, university librarian and dean of library instructional services and Dedra Williams, secretary of the Board of Trustees.

UIS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Dennis Papini and UIS Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Clarice Ford also spoke at the ceremony.

Photos and more video are available at the commencement website:

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