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Commencement ceremonies to take place May 11 at Illinois


Stephanie Lulay, News Bureau

WILL will provide coverage of the UI commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. May 11, with a live broadcast on WILL-AM (580) and live audio streaming on its Web site at

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The 137th commencement of the University of Illinois will be held in two ceremonies May 11 (Sunday) at the Assembly Hall, 1800 S. First. St., Champaign.

The speaker at both ceremonies will be Mannie Jackson, a 1960 alumnus and chairman and owner of the Harlem Globetrotters.

At the 10:30 a.m. ceremony, candidates in the colleges of Applied Health Sciences, Communications, Law, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine; the Institute of Aviation; the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations; the School of Social Work; and the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences will receive degrees.

Candidates in the colleges of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering; and Fine and Applied Arts will receive degrees at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. for the morning ceremony and at 1 p.m. for the afternoon ceremony. After all students and their guests are seated, the remaining seats will be available to the public. Shuttle buses also will stop at various campus locations, including the Assembly Hall, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All students who have earned bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees and advanced certificates during the preceding year are honored at the annual commencement.

Those who will receive honorary degrees during the 10:30 a.m. ceremony:

James McPherson, a professor emeritus at Princeton University and Civil War historian, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters. McPherson is also a winner of a Pulitzer Prize in history, a Christopher Award and Best Book Award of the American Military Institute for his book “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era.” Along with Illinois alumnus David Herbert, he is considered the most important interpreter of Abraham Lincoln’s life. McPherson, who was the youngest full professor ever at Princeton University, has written 11 books and served as president of the Society of American Historians and the American Historical Association.

Andrew Sorensen, president of the University of South Carolina, will receive an honorary Doctor of University Administration. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from the U. of I. in 1959 and earned another bachelor’s, in divinity, from Yale University in 1962. At the University of Michigan he earned a master’s degree in public health in 1966 and returned to Yale for a master’s in 1970 and a doctorate in philosophy in 1971. In 1983, Sorenson became dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts, witnessing the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He persuaded Gov. Michael Dukakis to establish a state AIDS research council, which Sorenson chaired. He was the executive director of the AIDS Institute at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions from 1987 to 1990, when he became provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Florida. In 1996 he was named president of the University of Alabama, and since 2002 he has been at South Carolina.

Those who will receive honorary degrees during the 2 p.m. ceremony:

Jay Gates, the director of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art history at College of Wooster in 1968, and studied at the Institute of European Studies at the University of Vienna before earning a master’s at the University of Rochester in 1970. He also has studied at the University of Pittsburgh. He has served as curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the St. Louis Art Museum, and as director at the Seattle Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, and at the Phillips since 1998.

The Phillips Collection, the oldest museum of modern art in the U.S., began a partnership with the U. of I. in June 2006, called “Illinois at the Phillips Collection.” Undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students from the university, the D.C. area and elsewhere have participated in the new academic program focusing on the study of modern art. Classes are taught by U. of I. faculty members as well as by members of the Phillips staff.

Peter Walker, a landscape architect, will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, in 1955, Walker pursued graduate work in landscape architecture at Illinois in 1956 and earned a master’s degree in 1957 from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He served as chair of the department of landscape architecture at Harvard from 1977 to 1978, was an adjunct professor at Harvard from 1976 to 1999, held the Charles Eliot Chair at Harvard in 1992 and was chair of the department of landscape architecture at Berkeley in 1997 to 1999. He has been honored by the Federal Housing Authority, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the American Institute of Architects, the American Institute of Planning and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The alumni association will present five awards at the commencement ceremonies:

Receiving the Alumni Achievement Award:

Doris Kelley Christopher, founder and chair of The Pampered Chef, the premier direct seller of high-quality kitchen tools, is an active member of the Direct Selling Association and Direct Selling Education Foundation for more than two decades. She is a member of America’s Second Harvest, The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, and the U. of I. Foundation. Christopher’s awards and honors include the Association of Corporate Growth’s “ACG Chicago 2007 Lifetime Achievement” award and induction into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. Christopher also is the author of two books and has supported the Family Resiliency Program in the U. of I. College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. She received an undergraduate degree from the U. of I. in home economics in 1967.

Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, has been dedicated to improving minority participation and performance in science and math education. Hrabowski has been a consultant for the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and universities and school systems nationally, and serves on the boards of organizations such as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. His honors include the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a co-author of two books and earned a master’s degree from Illinois in mathematics in 1971 and a doctoral degree in education at the U. of I.

Sheila Crump Johnson, a founding partner of Black Entertainment Television, is an ambassador for the humanitarian organization CARE and a supporter of organizations that help children and young adults explore creatively. Johnson oversees luxury properties as chief executive officer of Salamander Hospitality and is the only woman to have a stake in three professional sports teams – the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals. A film producer and accomplished violinist, Johnson chairs the board of governors of Parsons The New School for Design in New York and serves on the board of the U. of I. Foundation. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Illinois in 1970.

Receiving the Alumni Humanitarian Award:

Betty Burch Mohlenbrock is founder of the Family Literacy Foundation and forerunner of United Through Reading, an organization that arranges to record and send home DVDs of deployed military parents reading to their children. This program has reached thousands of members of the military at sites throughout the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as incarcerated prisoners in San Diego. Mohlenbrock is a former elementary-school teacher and private reading tutor and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Illinois in 1962 and a master’s degree in education in 1964.

Receiving the Distinguished Service Award:

Carol Keiser-Long is founder and president of C-ARC Enterprises, with interests in biofuels, alternative feedstocks and agricultural education, and C-BAR Cattle Co. A former vocational education teacher, Keiser-Long established an internship program for women in the College of ACES, which has long recognized her for support. She has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the ACES Alumni Association and U. of. I. Foundation, and from 1999 to 2001 chaired the board of directors of the U. of I. Alumni Association, which has honored her with loyalty and spirit awards and named her an Illini Comeback guest. She earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Illinois in 1968.