Fourteen distinguished individuals, including accomplished alumni, will visit the University of Illinois at Chicago to address the 2019 graduates and their families at celebratory commencement ceremonies May 8-13.
Five guests will be granted honorary degrees, the university’s highest award: writer and journalist Aleksandar Hemon, from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; author Harriette Gillem Robinet, from the College of Applied Health Sciences; president and founder of MTSG John E. Major, from the College of Engineering; sculptor Ruth Aizuss Migdal, from the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts; and philanthropist Carol H. Retzky, from the College of Pharmacy.
More than 5,800 degrees will be awarded at 14 college ceremonies, which will all take place at the Credit Union 1 Arena, 525 S. Racine Ave.
Honors College: May 8, 7 p.m. Speaker: Brittany Merritt, executive director of Peer Health Exchange Chicago.
Pharmacy: May 9, 10 a.m. Speaker: UIC alumna Jenny Colombo, an executive at Takeda Pharmaceuticals International.
Philanthropist Carol H. Retzky will receive an honorary degree. Retzky, along with her late husband Herbert, owned pharmacies in Chicago most of their working lives. Herbert was a pharmacist, while Carol was a pharmacy technician. With a $5 million gift to UIC, the couple established the Herbert M. and Carol H. Retzky Deanship.
Nursing: May 9, 2 p.m. Speaker: Mary Beth Kingston, chief nursing officer at Advocate Aurora Health.
Applied Health Sciences: May 9, 7 p.m. Speaker: Steven N. Blair, distinguished professor emeritus of exercise science and epidemiology and biostatistics in the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health.
Award-winning children’s author Harriette Gillem Robinet will receive an honorary degree. She was motivated by the struggles of children with disabilities, including her own child, who has cerebral palsy. Additionally, her heritage — three of her grandparents were slaves — along with other significant historical events in African American civil rights, have inspired her writing.
Social Work: May 10, 9 a.m. Speaker: UIC alumnus Marvin Lindsey, chief executive officer of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association and executive director of ProviderCo.
Medicine: May 10, 2 p.m. Speaker: Dr. Darrell G. Kirch, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Education: May 10, 7 p.m. Speaker: UIC alumna Erika L. Sánchez, poet, essayist and fiction writer.
Urban Planning and Public Affairs: May 11, 9 a.m. Speaker: Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton will be the keynote speaker. As the former director of the Center for Public Safety and Justice at UIC, she trained law enforcement on building trust in the communities they serve.
Dentistry: May 11, 12:30 p.m. Speaker: Dean of Dentistry Clark Stanford. Stanford is a UIC Distinguished Professor and has won 15 teaching awards.
Public Health: May 11, 4 p.m. Speaker: Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Architecture, Design, and the Arts: May 11, 7:30 p.m. Speaker: Architect Juan Gabriel Moreno.
Sculptor Ruth Aizuss Migdal will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. She is known for her monumental statues in cast iron, steel and ceramics. Her works grace many Chicago streets, parks and private gardens, and have been shown in special exhibitions nationally and abroad.
Liberal Arts and Sciences: May 12, 10 a.m. Speaker: John Leverence, senior vice president of awards for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, and an alumnus of UIC’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a bachelor’s in English.
Writer and journalist Aleksandar Hemon will receive an honorary degree. Hemon is the author of “The Lazarus Project,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Awards, among other books. His climb to book writing, New Yorker essays and awards started in the streets of Chicago, as a bike messenger and Greenpeace canvasser.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is UIC’s largest college commencement, with more than 1,300 graduates. Approximately 8,000 graduates and guests are expected to fill the Credit Union 1 Arena to capacity May 12.
Engineering: May 12, 3 p.m. Speaker: UIC alumnus John E. Major, president and founder of MTSG, will give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree from the college. Major has been an influential force behind the technological innovations in wireless telecommunications over the last 50 years.
Business Administration: May 13, 2 p.m. Speaker: UIC alumna and Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon.
With more than 31,000 students, UIC is Chicago’s largest university and has one of the nation’s largest medical schools. UIC has one of the most diverse student bodies in the U.S. and is among the nation’s leading universities in federal research funding.