(Charleston, IL) – Eastern Illinois University will be buzzing with excitement tomorrow as family and friends of new Panther alumni pack Lantz Arena to celebrate the academic achievements of EIU’s most recent graduating class.
Commencement ceremonies for the university’s various colleges will take place at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. May 6 in Lantz Arena, on Eastern Illinois University’s campus, 600 Lincoln Avenue in Charleston. Undergraduates from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Lumpkin College of Business and Technology will march in the morning ceremony, undergraduates from the Colleges of Education and Health and Human Services will march in the late afternoon ceremony, and graduate degree students from all four Colleges will march in the 1:30 p.m. ceremony.
EIU President Dr. David M. Glassman will preside over the day’s ceremonies. Each ceremony will feature a special guest speaker who will present the official Charge to the Class. Graduates participating in the morning and late afternoon ceremonies will hear from EIU alumnus Dwayne Reed, while graduate students will hear from Jerry Esker during the 1:30 p.m. ceremony. Reed is a 2016 EIU graduate and an author, rapper and educator in Chicago. His viral music video, “Welcome to the 4th Grade,” garnered millions of views and catapulted him into an educational spotlight, including an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “The Jimmy Kimmel Live Show.” Meanwhile, Esker played an integral part in the growth of Sarah Bush Lincoln, having spent more than for 35 years working at the Mattoon-based health system, including six years as president and CEO. During his tenure, Sarah Bush added a Regional Cancer Center and Surgery Center; a Heart Center; 22 additional patient rooms; and a multi-clinic building in Effingham. Esker also helped strengthen the hospital’s relationship with EIU, partnering with the University for the SBL Scholars program. Starting this past fall, that partnership will give six students full scholarships to EIU’s new Gail and Richard Lumpkin School of Nursing through 2029. Esker graduated from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy in 1982 and later earned his MBA from EIU in 1990.
Commencement marshals lead the procession while carrying the university mace. This spring’s commencement marshals include Dr. Eric Bollinger, professor of Biological Studies, 10 a.m.; Dr. Julie Dietz, professor and chair of Public Health and Nutrition, 1:30 p.m.; and Dr. Misty Rhoads, professor of Public Health and Nutrition, 4:30 p.m.
Faculty marshals for the day include: 10 a.m.: Deborah Reifsteck, instructor and advisor for Fashion Merchandising and Design; 1:30 p.m.: Dr. Robert Columbo, professor of Biological Sciences, Dr. Marko Grünhagen, distinguished professor of Entrepreneurship, Dr. Mikki Sherwood, professor and chair of Human Services, and Dr. Catherine Polydore, professor and chair of Counseling and Higher Education; and 4:30 p.m.: Dr. Cori Moore, assistant professor of Special Education.
Student commencement speakers for the day will include Cierra Terry, 10 a.m.; Lily Hess, 1:30 p.m.; and Ambrosia Pascual, 4:30 p.m.
During the morning and early afternoon ceremonies, special recognition also will be given to Dr. Robert Columbo, professor of Biological Sciences. This award is presented annually by the Faculty Senate to a full-time faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, professional research/creative activity and service.
Former 10th EIU President and perpetual EIU advocate Dr. Louis Hencken also will be awarded an honorary degree during the late afternoon ceremony. Hencken has been affiliated with EIU since his time as a student in the 1960s and continues to offer the University his assistance in several capacities, even throughout his retirement.
The Eastern Illinois University Police Department will be helping to coordinate traffic outside Lantz Arena throughout the day. Eastern Illinois University officials encourage community residents to be aware of the increased traffic around the university, and to consider alternate routes when possible.
For more information about EIU, or to learn more about its various programs and services, visit the EIU website at www.eiu.edu, or call EIU’s public information office at (217) 581-7400.