Blake Wood
Publish Date

The University of Illinois Springfield held its 52nd annual Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 13, 2023, at the Bank of Springfield (BOS) Center in downtown Springfield. Out of the 1,178 UIS students who were eligible to graduate, 712 participated in the ceremony.

UIS Chancellor Janet L. Gooch presided over her first commencement ceremony, welcoming thousands of guests. She congratulated the graduates on their success and starting a new chapter in their lives.

“Graduates, this is your day to reflect on the work you put in these past several years, and to be inspired to keep working hard to create the future you dream for yourself,” Gooch said. “I am confident that 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 helped play a part in your future success.”

During the ceremony, an honorary doctorate of humane letters was awarded to Raymond Schroeder, a retired professor who helped to establish UIS as a national leader in online learning.

“I am honored and humbled by this recognition, but I must say that online learning at UIS is not my achievement alone,” Schroeder said. “It is the achievement of a team of hard-working, dedicated, mission-driven professionals at the university. I may have been the coach in the beginning, but the team of instructional designers, faculty developers, program coordinators, marketing professionals and the teaching faculty who develop, constantly improve and promote online learning are the ones who earned this recognition.”

The student commencement speaker was LaNise Kirk who spoke about the inspiring lessons she’s learned from her battle with Angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer. She graduated with a master’s degree in human development counseling. During her speech, Kirk talked about the power of hope, love and relationships.

“Please, remember my friends, no matter how many degrees or plaques hang on your wall, no matter how many accolades you’ve received during your career, they will not be what’s holding your hand at the end of your life,” Kirk said. “No, on your death bed, it will be relationships that surround you, the people you have loved, people that have loved you, and people whose lives you’ve touched. That is truly a life well lived.”

University of Illinois Board of Trustees Secretary Jeffrey A. Stein and University of Illinois System Executive Vice President and Vice President for Academic Affairs Nicholas P. Jones also spoke, along with UIS Dean of Students Jantzen Eddington.

Dignitaries on stage during the ceremonies included faculty grand marshal Beverly Bunch, a professor in the School of Public Management and Policy; Will Formea, UIS student representative to the Board of Trustees; Vickie Cook, vice chancellor for enrollment and retention management; Lan Dong, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; Somnath Bhattacharya, dean of the College of Business Management; Robert Smith, dean of the College of Public Affairs and Education; Mark Anderson, interim dean of the College of Health, Science and Technology; Jeffrey Lorber, vice chancellor for advancement and senior vice president of the University of Illinois Foundation; and Pattie Piotrowski, university librarian and dean of UIS Library Instructional Services.

Photos and more video are available at the commencement website.