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Millikin University President Emeritus Dr. Patrick E. White to deliver May 2022 Commencement Address

DECATUR, Ill. – Millikin University will celebrate the Class of 2022 with two in-person commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 22, at Kirkland Fine Arts Center on Millikin’s campus. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs will be honored during the ceremonies.

     Graduating students will be allowed up to six guests at the ceremony. Millikin community members unable to attend the ceremony in person will be able to watch the ceremony through a public live stream on Millikin’s flagship Facebook page and commencement site.

     Millikin graduates in the College of Fine Arts and the College of Professional Studies will participate in the first ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 22. Doors will open at 9 a.m.

     The morning ceremony will feature student speaker Erica Reyes, of Grant Park, Ill., who is graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts with a major in art therapy and a minor in psychology. “Being here at Millikin has given me the opportunity to find my voice and understand my identity,” she says. The title of Reyes’ speech is “Graduates, we did it.”

     During her four years at Millikin, Reyes has been heavily involved as a student leader. She was instrumental in reestablishing Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc. on campus and served as the president for the last two years. She is a member of the Latin American Student Organization and served as the vice president for three semesters. She is a Long-Vanderburg Scholar and Mentor, a member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society and was a resident assistant her sophomore year.

     Graduates in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Tabor School of Business will participate in the second ceremony at 3 p.m. Doors will open at 2 p.m.

     The afternoon ceremony will feature student speaker Aubrey Staton, of El Paso, Ill., who is graduating with a Bachelor of Science from the Tabor School of Business with a major in entrepreneurship and a minor in digital media marketing. “Millikin has given me countless opportunities,” she says. The title of Staton’s speech is “The only consistent thing is change.”

     During her four years, Staton was a member of the Honors Program and the Millikin women’s basketball team. She also served as a Big Blue Ambassador and a senior resident assistant. Staton has received several awards, including the Scovill Prize during her junior year and recently became a business owner after filing for her LLC.

     This year’s commencement keynote speaker is Millikin President Emeritus Dr. Patrick E. White. Dr. White was elected the 15th president of Millikin University in October 2013 after he joined Millikin as the interim president in July 2013. Dr. White retired as president of Millikin University on June 30, 2020.

Dr. Patrick E. White

Dr. Patrick E. White

     Under Dr. White’s leadership, Millikin has been revitalized and reimagined through a commitment to Millikin’s signature Performance Learning and a new energy for growth in academic and athletic programs, student body and campus facilities.

     In 2015, under Dr. White’s guidance, Millikin completed its “Transform MU” capital campaign 14 months early, exceeding its $85 million goal by over $10 million. This successful initiative led to the design and construction of innovative, transformative facilities on the University’s campus. The Workman Family Softball Field, one of the best in the nation, was unveiled for the spring 2017 softball season. The $31 million University Commons, which serves as the “front door and main street” to campus, opened in August 2017, and the University officially opened the on-campus home of the Big Blue Baseball program with the dedication of the Workman Family Baseball Field on Sept. 27, 2019.

     During Dr. White’s tenure, Millikin’s Center for Theatre & Dance was completed in fall 2020, providing the School of Theatre & Dance with a facility equal in quality and potential to its national reputation. This $29 million state-of-the-art facility features a 260-seat flexible theatre with an orchestra pit and balcony, lighting and sound labs, a costume studio, collaboration spaces, costume and design classrooms, modern equipment and office space for current staff with room for growth.

     Prior to working at Millikin, Dr. White served seven years as the 15th president of Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind. During his tenure at Wabash, Dr. White developed a student-focused strategic plan; guided the College through the financial turmoil of 2008-09; completed a comprehensive academic program review and unqualified Self-Study Report that led to reaccreditation; secured a number of grants to establish new programs; achieved success in the Challenge of Excellence capital campaign that exceeded its $60 million goal; and completed a $6 million Athletics Field Campaign.

     Dr. White also served as vice president and dean of faculty at Saint Mary’s College at Notre Dame, Ind., from 2002-06, was the associate dean of faculty from 1988-2002 and served the all-women’s college as professor of English. Earlier in his career, Dr. White was the chair of the Department of Language and Literature at Pfieffer College in Misenheimer, N.C., from 1985-88, and taught at Westmar College in Le Mars, Iowa, from 1976-85.

     A National Merit Scholar, Dr. White earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Chicago in 1971, a Master of Arts in English from the University of Iowa in 1975, and a Doctorate of English and American Literature from the University of Iowa in 1980.

     For more information on Millikin University’s May 2022 commencement ceremonies, please

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