Blake Wood
Publish Date

The University of Illinois Springfield held two commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at the Bank of Springfield (BOS) Center in downtown Springfield. Out of the 1,131 UIS students who were eligible to graduate, 622 participated in the ceremonies.

UIS Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney presided over the ceremonies, welcoming thousands of guests. She also reflected on UIS’ 51st Commencement being the first since 2019 to take place on the BOS Center stage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I know I speak for all of us when I say it is so awesome to be able to resume our UIS tradition of honoring our amazing graduates here, on this very stage, in person, with their friends and loved ones present to honor their accomplishments,” she said.

Whitney was joined on stage by University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen during the second ceremony. Killeen asked the graduates to reflect on all that they had accomplished during the past years.  

“The resilience and determination you have shown, the fact that you have achieved so much during the worst public health crisis of the last century, is truly remarkable and certainly a reason to kick up your heels,” Killeen said. “So be proud. Live it up. Wear out the cameras on your cell phones. Then tweet and post those happy pictures of you, your family and friends for everyone to see!”

The student commencement address at the 12:30 p.m. ceremony was delivered by Antone Evans Jr., who graduated with a master’s degree in computer science. Evans reflected on his shared college experience and left his fellow graduates with a challenge for the future.

“UIS has given us the tools to live in leadership daily; the tools to change history; tools to form the life we’ve always dreamed about,” Evans said. “With these tools, we have the power to continue dreaming big dreams and working hard. So, as you go into the world, continue to swing big!”

At the 5:30 p.m. ceremony, Jocelyn Nelson, who graduated with a master’s degree in human services, served as the student commencement speaker. She also left her fellow graduates with a challenge for the future.

“Challenge yourselves to challenge what is normal,” Nelson said. “When you leave here today with your degree, embrace your versatility, follow your wildest dreams, engage with people who challenge you to be a better version of yourself and never settle for what others try to set in stone. Because why be normal when you can be extraordinary.”

Dignitaries on stage during the ceremonies included faculty grand marshal Heather Dell, associate professor of sociology/anthropology; Tena Helton, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Jorge Villegas, associate dean of the College of Business and Management; Jim Ermatinger, dean of the College of Education and Human Services; Robert Smith, dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration; 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.

UIS Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Dennis Papini, UIS Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Ann Comerford and University of Illinois Board of Trustees member Sarah Phalen also spoke at the ceremony. Photos and more video are available at the commencement website.