Illinois Wesleyan Celebrates Class of 2013 at Commencement

May 5, 2013


The Class of 2013 lines up before the ceremony.

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Illinois Wesleyan University graduates and their families gathered to celebrate the 163rd Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 5, on the newly named Glenn and Rozanne P. Kemp Commencement Plaza at State Farm Hall.       

President Richard F. Wilson congratulated the graduates, noting they will forever claim the distinction of being the first graduates to walk across the Kemp Commencement Plaza.  

Board of Trustees President George Vinyard ’71 welcomed the 474 members of the Class of 2013 to the fellowship of Illinois Wesleyan alumni. As an institution, Illinois Wesleyan strives “…to help our students develop the curiosity and intellectual and moral capacity to think deeply about the important things in life and to live in a manner that is consistent with the best values as reflected in our motto Scientia et Sapientia, generally translated as Knowledge and Wisdom.”

Vinyard, Wilson and Provost and Dean of the Faculty Jonathan D. Green conferred an honorary doctor of humane letters degree on Juan Salgado, a 1991 graduate of Illinois Wesleyan. The President and CEO of Instituto del Progreso Latino, Salgado delivered the Commencement address “You Who.”

Salgado noted that Wesleyan’s intimacy challenged him when he was a student. “When you are in a class of 17 students and the faculty member asks your line of reasoning, you really have no choice but to give it,” he said. “When there are less than 2,000 students on campus, you have to be thoughtful and respectful.”

Salgado suggested that world leaders could take a page from the intimacy of the Wesleyan playbook. “I would suggest many of our leaders come to campus, sit in a 17-student classroom and figure things out,” he said. “Act like the whole world was 2,000 students who need to live in peace with each other,” he said, admonishing the graduates “don’t let the world unwind what you now know. The leaders outside this university largely do not have the abilities that you do.”

He challenged the graduates to do what they dream of doing, what they are called to do and capable of doing. “Figure out your passion and you’ll find your path,” Salgado said, noting that he earned only part-time wages in his first full-time job after graduating from Wesleyan, but he was doing what he wanted.

“Do what stirs your spirit and soul; keep doing what stirs your spirit and soul,” he added. “You may not fully comprehend where you will end up, but I guarantee the journey will be rewarding, the pay – not always in dollars – will be immense, and the value of your Illinois Wesleyan education will become as priceless as mine has been.”

A significant voice in local and national settings for his work on the educational, political and economic advancement of the Latino community, Salgado was recognized as a 2011 White House Champion of Change for Social Innovation. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund Excellence in Community Service Award.

Also receiving an honorary degree was Robert Parris Moses, founder and president of the Algebra Project, a not-for-profit organization that uses mathematics as an organizing tool to ensure quality public school education for every child in America.

Senior Class President Ted Delicath offered his own interpretation of the oft-repeated quotation of the late IWU President Minor Myers, jr. -- “go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”

Doing good is more than an act, it is an outlook on life, Delicath said. Delicath drew attention to his best friend and hero Andrew Weishar, a member of the class of 2013 who passed away in October 2012 after a courageous battle with cancer. “When pitted against terminal circumstances, Andrew said ‘I’m not done fighting yet.’ His optimism in the face of seemingly hopeless conditions exemplifies that we can do good and that we must…without the sequential layering of optimism, empathy and action, I don’t believe we will have the passion or the motivation to do good,” Delicath added. 

Also speaking was the 2013 Student Senate Professor of the Year Meghan Burke, who said she felt a special kinship with the graduates because the end of the 2012-2013 school year also marked the end of her fourth year at Wesleyan. She declared the class of 2013 to be “a bunch of dorks,” explaining that “dorks are the epitome of a liberal arts tradition,” using examples such as the sociology major who understands biologically what Foucault meant by the “capillary functioning of power.”

Speaking to the graduates, Burke said: “You have begun to follow developments in your field in your spare time, discussing what you learn and care about with your friends and your family. You can likewise talk to friends in other fields, and tell jokes in French or in Spanish. Only dorks can really achieve this balance of knowledge, perspective and passion.”

Three professors were honored during the ceremony, all of which were recently named to endowed professorships at the University. Endowed professorships honor faculty members who have distinguished themselves in terms of teaching, research and service. Professor of Mathematics Tian-Xiao He was honored as the new Earl and Marian A. Beling Professor of Natural Sciences; Political Science Professor William Munro was honored as the new Betty Ritchie-Birrer ’47 and Ivan Birrer Endowed Professor; and History Professor Michael B. Young was honored with the new Robert W. Harrington Professorship. 

Contact: Kim Hill, (309) 556-3960