siu graduation apparel

May 06, 2021

SIU to honor May 2021 graduates, all 2020 graduates May 7-9

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The academic achievements of about 2,000 Southern Illinois University Carbondale graduates will be celebrated in person during outdoor commencement ceremonies at Saluki Stadium, Friday through Sunday, May 7-9.

Following protocols of the Restore Illinois Plan, social distancing will be required for all participants, guests and staff. Ceremonies over the three-day celebration for undergraduate, graduate and professional students will be for spring 2021 graduates along with 2020 graduates. All 2020 graduates will be feted in ceremonies on May 9, except for the SIU School of Law, which will recognize 2020 graduates with this spring’s class on May 7.

As of April 28, there are 1,948 candidates for degrees, including 1,468 candidates for bachelor’s degrees, 346 candidates for master’s degrees, 46 candidates for doctoral degrees, 54 law degree candidates and 34 candidates for associate degrees. In May, August and December 2020, the university awarded 3,720 degrees. Organizers anticipate between 200 and 250 of the 2020 graduates will participate in each of Sunday’s ceremonies.

“These special ceremonies are a testament to our students’ hard work, perseverance and resilience during unusual and challenging times,” said Chancellor Austin Lane. “I am grateful for our faculty and staff, who found innovative ways to teach and support them. I am proud we can celebrate this special day with my fellow Salukis, their families and their friends.”

The ceremonies will also be livestreamed at

Here is the ceremony schedule and honorary degree and distinguished service award recipients where applicable.

Friday, May 7

  • 2 p.m. – SIU School of Law. Former Illinois State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, is the keynote speaker.
  • 6 p.m. – College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Science. Pamela J. Wilson, an SIU alumna who has devoted her career to protecting public health through her work with the Texas Department of State of Health Services, will receive an honorary Doctor of Community Health degree. 

Saturday, May 8

  • 9 a.m. – College of Liberal Arts and College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. Jacquelyn D. Spinner, SIU alumna and former Washington Post reporter and now associate professor of journalism and Columbia College Chicago and documentary filmmaker, will receive an honorary Doctor of Media Arts degree. 
  • Noon – College of Applied Sciences and Arts. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, will receive an honorary Doctor of Community Health degree. 
  • 3 p.m. – College of Business, College of Engineering and School of Medicine. Harry L. Crisp II, an active philanthropist, chairman and CEO of Pepsi MidAmerica and SIU alumnus, will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. Pamela K. Pfeffer, an SIU alumna and co-founder, vice president and corporate secretary of Treemont Capital Inc., will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. 
  • 6 p.m. – College of Education and Human Services. Harold R. Bardo Jr., an SIU alumnus and former faculty member and director of the university’s medical/dental education preparatory (MEDPREP) program will receive a Distinguished Service Award. The family of Seymour L. Bryson, an SIU alumnus who served the university in academic and administrative positions for 40 years, will accept a posthumous Distinguished Service Award on his behalf. 

Sunday, May 9

  • Noon – Colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Applied Sciences and Arts, Engineering, Science and School of Medicine. 
  • 3 p.m. – Colleges of Business, Education and Human Services, Liberal Arts and Mass Communication and Media Arts. Carolyn F. Donow, an SIU alumna who spent her professional career at the university prior to retiring as associate director of the Office of Research Development and Administration, will receive a Distinguished Service Award. 

Medallions, honor cords and veteran’s cords  

A total of 1,521 students from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 who are participating in commencement exercises will wear special medallions and honor cords during the ceremonies that reflect significant academic achievement. 

Among the 1,521 students earning recognition: 

  • 709 will receive Cum Laude distinction, signifying a cumulative GPA of 3.5 to 3.749.
  • 399 will receive Magna Cum Laude distinction, signifying a cumulative GPA of 3.75 to 3.899.
  • 305 students will receive Summa Cum Laude distinction, carrying a cumulative GPA of 3.9 to 4.0.
  • 108 students will receive gold cords as recognition for participation in the University Honors Program. 

In addition, graduating students who are military veterans will wear red, white and blue cords provided by the university in recognition of their sacrifice, commitment and service to our country.