CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The 143rd Commencement of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will take place May 17 (Saturday) at Memorial Stadium, 1402 S. First St., Champaign. The event begins at 9:30 a.m.
The featured speaker will be astronaut Michael S. Hopkins, who earned a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering at Illinois in 1991. While at Illinois, he met his future wife, Julie, who earned her Illinois bachelor of science in health and safety studies in 1991. They have two sons.
A Missouri native, Hopkins attended Illinois because of the school's reputation for excellence in engineering. As a freshman he joined the football team as a walk-on player and finished his career as a team captain in the 1991 John Hancock Bowl. While at Illinois, Hopkins served in the Reserve Officers Training Corps, earning a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force immediately after graduation.
After earning a master's degree at Stanford University, he was assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., where he worked on advanced space system technologies. In 1996, he attended the flight test engineering course at the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Subsequent assignments took him from Canada to Italy and finally to the Pentagon where he served as a special assistant to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for whom he worked until he began astronaut training.
In 2009, Hopkins was selected as one of 14 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class, graduating from astronaut candidate training two years later. On Sept. 25, 2013, Col. Hopkins, with two Russian cosmonauts, was welcomed aboard the International Space Station for a six-month mission. Seventy million miles and two space walks later, he returned to Earth on March 10, 2014.
George E. Andrews and Phillip Allen Sharp will receive honorary doctor of science degrees at the ceremony.
Andrews, a mathematician, researcher and educator, is one of the world's foremost analytic number theorists. He has advanced mathematics in the theories of partitions and q-series. His work at the interface of number theory and combinatorics has also led to many important applications in physics. His commitment to teaching and mentoring has influenced generations of students and researchers.
While contributing greatly to the field of mathematics through research, he has endeavored to put his discoveries in a historical context, dating back to the work of the great Swiss mathematician Euler in the 18th century and the renowned Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan early in the 20th century, greatly enriching the legacy of mathematics.
Andrews' discovery of Ramanujan's Lost Notebook, 138 handwritten pages containing about 650 formulas without proofs by one of the world's all-time mathematical geniuses, has had an enormous influence on partitions, q-series and modular forms. In a span of 35 years Andrews was able to prove nearly 75 percent of the results found in the notebook.
Sharp, a researcher, educator, entrepreneur and public servant, is one of the most accomplished figures in modern biology and biomedical science. His work has transformed the way we view genes in the human body. He has trained influential researchers too numerous to name. His vision to advance science into the marketplace at the forefront of the biotechnology revolution inspired an industry.
In 2006, he was honored with a Nobel Prize for his discovery of RNA splicing. This discovery revolutionized biology and the pharmaceutical industry. He also contributed significantly to the fields of transcription and RNAi, and in the promise for medical uses of RNA. Sharp has been a pioneering co-founder of both Biogen and Alnylam, which translates basic science to benefit thousands of medical patients.
He also has been a tireless and celebrated educator, as well as an advocate for publicly funded research that transforms human health and drives the nation's economic engine. His lab has been a seedbed for discovery and innovation. Many of his former students and researchers have become leaders in cancer genetics and molecular biology.
The U. of I. Alumni Association will present five awards.
• George R. Carruthers will receive an Achievement Award. Carruthers, recognized by President Barack Obama with the 2011 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, is honored for his pioneering work as an inventor and astrophysicist of international prominence. Carruthers, who built his first telescope from a cardboard tube and mail-order lens at age 10, led the team that developed the far ultraviolet camera/spectrograph, a revolutionary scientific instrument that was carried to the moon by the Apollo 16 astronauts in 1972. Positioned on the lunar surface, the spectrograph enabled researchers to make readings of and understand objects and elements in space that are invisible to the naked eye, and provided views of far-distant stars and nebulae. The instrument helped Carruthers make one of his most important discoveries - proof of the existence of molecular hydrogen in interstellar space. A second version of the camera was sent on the last manned Skylab flight in 1974 to study the Comet Kohoutek. Carruthers' later inventions included a camera used on the space shuttle, and instruments that obtained far-UV images of Halley's Comet and a Leonid meteor shower. A member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Carruthers earned three degrees from the College of Engineering: a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering in 1961, a master of science in nuclear engineering in 1962 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 1964.
• Lynn S. Price, will receive a Humanitarian Award for her advocacy of youth in foster care and her dedication to reconnecting separated siblings. Her own childhood experience as a youth in care who was separated from her older sister motivated Price's life work as a social entrepreneur, coach and motivational speaker. While working as a court-appointed advocate, Price discovered that 75 percent of the nearly 600,000 youth in the U.S. foster care system are separated from at least one sibling; the finding spurred her in 1995 to found Camp to Belong, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a safe haven where separated siblings can spend quality time together at summer camps. An international lecturer and author of two books, Price has received numerous accolades for her work, including the Points of Light President's Service Award, presented to her in 1998 by President Bill Clinton, and the 2000 Use Your Life Award from Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network. Price's impact as a leading social entrepreneur was recognized by Ashoka United States, which named her one of its fellows in 2005. She earned a bachelor of science degree in advertising at Illinois in 1977.
• Don R. Scifres will receive an Achievement Award. He is being honored as a business and technology visionary, universally recognized for his achievements in semiconductor laser research and development. Among his more than 140 patents, his three diode laser structures are the most widely used such innovations in today's optical fiber communication industry, and virtually all fiber Internet communications are generated or amplified by devices dependent on the original designs and contributions of Scifres and his colleagues. As a young scientist at Xerox Corp. in 1972, Scifres helped pioneer various forms of semiconductor lasers, and in 1983 he co-founded Spectra Diode Laboratories Inc., a semiconductor laser and electro-optics system manufacturer. Scifres continued to serve in executive positions at JDS Uniphase, which had acquired SDL in 2001, and after retiring in 2003, he founded two investment capital companies. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Scifres has served in leadership roles in various professional organizations and has been honored with numerous international awards for his work. He earned two degrees in electrical engineering from the College of Engineering: a master of science in 1970 and a doctorate in 1972.
• Thomas D. Vogelsinger will receive a Distinguished Service Award for his exemplary volunteer leadership and deep commitment to sustaining the excellence of the U. of I. for future generations. Vogelsinger, who retired in 2009 after 36 years at Ernst & Young, is a past chairman of the alumni association board of directors and was a member of the President's Advisory Committee under former U. of I. President James Stukel. Vogelsinger served on the Advisory Council for the Department of Accountancy, and was also a member of the Campaign Steering Committee for the College of Business' Investing in Excellence capital campaign, where he led fundraising efforts for a $2 million gift on behalf of EY. Vogelsinger and his wife, Lynn, are charter donors to the Alice Campbell Alumni Center and support other programs within the College of Business and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. With his brother, Ed, he established the Vogelsinger Family Scholarship for undergraduate students in accountancy. Vogelsinger serves as a College of Business mentor, regularly returns to campus to speak to students, hosts regional alumni gatherings and serves as a national advocate for alumni private support. He received the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Business, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1973 and an MBA in 1974.
• Fred R. Volkmar will receive an Achievement Award for his pioneering work in understanding autism. The director of the Yale University Child Study Center, he is the leader of a team that in 1990 developed the definition of the disorder used by the American Psychiatric Association. He is considered a leading expert on the diagnosis and treatment of autism and related disorders, and was the principal investigator on a large-scale, longitudinal study of autistic children, held at 10 centers across the nation. In his work as the Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology at Yale University School of Medicine, Volkmar is developing quantifiable methods of identifying social and biomedical aspects of autism so that a diagnosis can be made far earlier than age 3, thereby allowing treatment to take advantage of the neuroplasticity of infants and young children. He is the author of several notable books and several hundred papers discussing the autism spectrum and serves as editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Volkmar, chief of child psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut, received an honorary doctor of science degree from the U. of I. in 2013. He graduated in 1972 from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology.
The stadium will open at 8 a.m. The ceremony will take place regardless of the weather - unless conditions are deemed unsafe.
Tickets are required and may be picked up Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the event services window at the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.
Guest seating will be on the west side of the stadium (enter through Portals 1 & 2 along First Street). Parking will be available in Lot E-14 (at First Street and Kirby Avenue, Champaign) and, if weather permits, in the grass lots west of the stadium.
The wheelchair accessible entrance is Gate 24; accessible parking (with hangtag) will be available in the Northwest Orange Lot (at First and Kirby) and the Northeast Blue Lot (Fourth and Kirby).
Kirby Avenue will be closed from First Street to Fourth Street from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Shuttle buses will be running from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. May 17 and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on May 18 to convocation venues throughout the campus.
A reception for graduates and their families will take place in the gardens of the President's House, 711 W. Florida Ave., Urbana, from noon to 1:30 p.m. May 17. Academic attire is encouraged.
All students who have earned bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degrees and advanced certificates during the preceding year are honored at Commencement.
The first floor of the main library will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. May 17 and 18 for visitors and students to view the University Honors Bronze Tablets. Many individual U. of I. units have scheduled additional convocation ceremonies. More information is available online.
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