A black woman, dressed in commencement regalia, is seen blowing kisses to the crowd as she graduates.

May 02, 2024

Nearly 1,850 students will be honored at SIU Carbondale commencement exercises

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The academic achievements of nearly 1,850 Southern Illinois University Carbondale students will be celebrated during spring 2024 commencement exercises May 10-11.

Festivities start with the SIU Simmons Law School commencement on Friday, May 10, at Shryock Auditorium. On Saturday, May 11, Banterra Center will hold two commencement ceremonies.

As of late April, there are 1,844 candidates for degrees and certificates, including 1,193 candidates for bachelor’s degrees, 387 candidates for master’s degrees, 106 candidates for doctoral degrees, 77 law degree candidates, 79 candidates for associate degrees and two candidates for undergraduate certificates.

The oldest candidate is 70 years old, and there are two 19-year-old degree candidates, both from Benton, Illinois. The candidates represent 10 different countries.

“Commencement is my favorite time of year,” said Chancellor Austin A. Lane. “It is always exciting to celebrate this milestone with our students and their families. Salukis imagine how they can make the world better – even when it defies the odds – then they go out and accomplish it.”

There is no ticketing for guests, and guest seating for all of the ceremonies is on a first-come, first-served basis. The ceremonies will also be livestreamed at commencement.siu.edu/videos.

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

Friday, May 10

  • 1 p.m. — SIU Simmons Law School. Thomas Britton, a charter member of the law school’s first graduating class in 1976 who has a five-decade relationship with the university and law school, is the keynote speaker.

Saturday, May 11

  • 9 a.m. — College of Health and Human Sciences; College of Liberal Arts; School of Education; School of Medicine (SOM Ph.D. and master’s degrees only).

Larry H. Dietz, a 1970 graduate in political science, is a former vice chancellor at SIU Carbondale who served as president at Illinois State University before retiring in June 2021. He was recently chosen interim president of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, beginning July 1. Dietz will receive a Distinguished Service Award from the School of Education. 

Paul E. Echols, a two-degree SIU Carbondale graduate, spent more than 40 years as a police officer and higher education criminal justice instructor, including at both SIU Carbondale and Shawnee Community College. He will receive a Distinguished Service Award from the School of Justice and Public Safety in the College of Health and Human Sciences. 

Crystal A. Kuykendall, a 1970 graduate in political science, is an educator, human relations expert, legal analyst, attorney and author. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the School of Education. 

  • 1 p.m. — College of Agricultural, Life, and Physical Sciences; College of Arts and Media; College of Business and Analytics; College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics.
C. James “Jimmy” Wright, an internationally known painter and pastel artist, who earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from SIU in 1971, will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the College of Arts and Media. 

SIU to award posthumous degrees

The university will award two posthumous degrees to the families of two former students during the May 11 ceremonies.

Chase Bowles of Alton will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in sport administration from the College of Health and Human Sciences during the 9 a.m. ceremony. He passed away in September 2023. 

Summer Stahl of Tremont will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in geography and environmental resources from the College of Agricultural, Life, and Physical Sciences during the 1 p.m. ceremony. She passed away in June 2023. 

Medallions, honor cords and veteran’s cords reflect achievement 

A total of 673 students who are participating in commencement exercises will wear special medallions and honor cords during the ceremonies that reflect significant academic achievement. 

Among the 673 students earning recognition: 

  • 257 will receive cum laude distinction, signifying a cumulative GPA of 3.5 to 3.749.
  • 174 will receive magna cum laude distinction, signifying a cumulative GPA of 3.75 to 3.899.
  • 127 students will receive summa cum laude distinction, carrying a cumulative GPA of 3.9 to 4.0.
  • 86 University Honors Program students will receive a certificate for completing 18 honors credit hours while maintaining a 3.3 GPA; four of those students also completed a 3-credit thesis.
  • 29 Saluki student-athletes will earn Latin honors, and one student-athlete will also receive an honors program certificate. 

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

More information is available at commencement.siu.edu.