University News

UW-Whitewater winter commencement set for Dec. 18

December 09, 2021

Written by Kristine Zaballos | Photo by Craig Schreiner

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater will celebrate the achievements of its graduates at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, as proud families and friends gather for the 2021 winter commencement ceremony.

More than 762 students will cross the stage to receive their degrees. The ceremony, which is approximately two hours long and will be presided over by Interim Chancellor Jim Henderson, will be held at Kachel Fieldhouse in the Williams Center.

This year’s commencement speaker is Ray Jacobsen, a 1976 graduate with a degree in education who believes in the value of mentorships and credits four mentors he has had over the course of his life with much of his success, including famed Coach Willie Myers of the Warhawks wrestling program. After a three-year stint at Brookfield East High School as a teacher and coach, the Fort Atkinson native embarked upon a long career in business, first at Wausau Insurance Co. and then EBI Companies, rising from loss control consultant to regional manager and then CEO at the age of 39.

The student speaker is Melissa Dix, a liberal studies major who grew up in Rockford, Illinois, and lives in Beloit with her husband Tim and their four children. Dix’s Warhawk family roots go back almost 100 years, when her great aunt attended and graduated in the 1920s. An expert in information technology, she currently works as a lead program instructor at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, helping people harness the power of technology to foster connection, creativity and the joy of learning.

The ceremony will recognize 75 undergraduates from the College of Arts and Communication, 201 from the College of Business and Economics, 172 from the College of Education and Professional Studies and 177 from the College of Letters and Sciences, for a total of 630 undergraduate degrees. The School of Graduate Studies will award 132 degrees, including 119 master's degrees and 13 doctorates.

The graduating class includes 4 international students, 71 military veterans and 168 nontraditional students, defined as undergraduate students who are 25 years of age or older. In addition, 79 self-identified students with disabilities will receive degrees.

A total of 57 graduating students participated in the university’s Hired Before Graduation campaign, which celebrates students who landed a job, earned acceptance to graduate school or started their own business before commencement.

Commencement will be broadcast live online by UWWTV, the university television station. Access to the livestream will be posted at