May 11, 2017

Media Advisory – Spring 2017 Commencement

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover commencement ceremonies Friday and Saturday, May 12-13, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. More than 2,200 professional, graduate and undergraduate students are candidates for degrees. 

Many times out-of-town guests turn to local media outlets to confirm commencement schedules. We would appreciate your help in sharing this schedule with your audiences. Graduation ceremonies are open to the public and tickets are not required. 

The fifth annual “Forever SIU: A Commencement Celebration” on Friday, May 12, will celebrate the members of the Class of 2017 and their families. Festivities are from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Student Center. Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell and other university officials and faculty will welcome graduates and their families. The festivities will include food and drinks, karaoke, bowling, billiards, photo booths, and graduation craft projects to document memories. 

On Friday, commencement ceremonies begin with exercises for SIU School of Law graduates at 3 p.m. at Shryock Auditorium. U.S. District Judge Staci M. Yandle of the Southern District of Illinois will deliver the keynote address. 

On Saturday, there will be three separate commencement ceremonies at the SIU Arena. Each ceremony will be available via livestream at and will be available on the university’s YouTube channel at

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, and retired U.S. Air Force General Larry O. Spencer, an SIU Carbondale alumnus, are the featured keynote speakers. Spencer will receive one of two honorary degree awards; Bustos’ father, the late Gene Callahan, a former journalist, political adviser, and SIU Board of Trustees member from 2000 to 2004, will receive a distinguished service award posthumously. 

Here is the schedule of the ceremonies, their keynote speaker, and distinguished service award recipient, and honorary degree recipient, where applicable. 

  • 9 a.m. – College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, College of Science, School of Medicine. Bustos is the commencement speaker. Susan McClary, professor and head of musicology at Case Western Reserve University and an SIU Carbondale alumna, will receive a Doctor of Music Arts honorary degree. Callahan will receive a distinguished service award posthumously.
  • 1:30 p.m. -- College of Business, College of Education and Human Services. Bustos will again be the keynote speaker. Greg Cook and Dorothy A. “Dede” Lingle Ittner will each receive distinguished service awards.
  • 5:30 p.m. -- College of Applied Sciences and Arts, College of Engineering, College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. Spencer is the commencement speaker and he will receive the honorary degree, Doctor of Public Service. 

Additional background information on the keynote speakers, honorary degree and distinguished service award recipients is available at