Kent State Celebrates Fall 2017 Commencement

Kent State University held its Fall Commencement ceremonies for the Kent Campus on Friday, Dec. 15, and Saturday, Dec. 16, at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center (MAC Center). Kent State conferred 2,320 degrees, including 1,824 bachelor’s degrees, 456 master’s degrees, 37 doctoral degrees and three educational specialist degrees.

Across the university’s eight-campus system, 2,981 students graduated from Kent State this fall, including those receiving associate degrees.


Dec. 15 at 6 p.m.

Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James is the Commencement speaker for the advanced degree ceremony at Kent State University on Dec. 15.The 6 p.m. ceremony on Friday, Dec. 15, recognized graduates receiving their master’s, educational specialist and doctoral degrees. The speaker for this ceremony was David W. James, Akron Public Schools superintendent. Mr. James is the 22nd chief executive of the Akron school system. Selected by the Akron Board of Education in 2008, he oversees roughly 20,000 pupils, 3,000 employees and operations of more than 50 school buildings. Under Mr. James’ guidance, Akron Public Schools has been designated as a Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) Community. Adopting the Ford NGL framework will help the district transition all high schools into the new College and Career Academies of Akron.

Mr. James earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and his master’s degree from Cleveland State University in public administration. He is president of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and was awarded the 2017 Ohio Superintendent Outstanding Performance Award from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. He is the recipient of the 2017 Glass Half Full Award from GAR Foundation. The award honors leaders for their inspiring and optimistic guidance of nonprofit organizations.


Dec. 16 at 9:30 a.m.

Kent State University alumna and Delta Air Lines Capt. Stephanie Johnson is the Commencement speaker for the morning ceremony on Dec. 16 at her alma mater.The 9:30 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16, recognized graduates receiving baccalaureate degrees from the College of Aeronautics and Engineering; College of Business Administration; College of Communication and Information; College of Education, Health and Human Services; and College of Nursing. The speaker for this ceremony was Stephanie M. Johnson, ’91, captain at Delta Air Lines. Capt. Johnson is a graduate of Kent State with a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace technology. As a student in the flight program, she earned her private pilot, commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates with instrument and multiengine ratings. As part of an internship program, she also earned a flight engineer certificate. While continuing her education at Kent State, she worked in airport operations and as a flight instructor in the aviation program. After graduating in 1991, she continued as a flight instructor at Kent State and at Medina Municipal (Freedom Field) airports. In 1993, Capt. Johnson was an airport operations agent at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. She continued to flight instruct until she was offered a position as an on-demand charter pilot. In 1995, Capt. Johnson obtained her first commercial airline job with Mesa Airlines. In 1997, she became the first black female pilot for Northwest Airlines. After her first year, she qualified as a first officer on the Boeing 757. In August 2016, Capt. Johnson became the first black female captain for Delta Air Lines and currently flies the Airbus 320.

Among Capt. Johnson’s professional memberships are Tuskegee Airmen, Cleveland Chapter and Young Aces, and the Midwest director for the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. She is also director of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals’ Cleveland Aviation Career Education Academy. For 20 years, she has been a contributor and volunteer for the Detroit ACE Academy. Capt. Johnson became a proud recipient of the Kent State College of Aeronautics and Engineering’s Vision 21 Alumni Award in 2011. Recent awards include the 2017 National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees’ Bessie Coleman Award, Black United Fund of Michigan’s Hidden Heroes Award, the Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum’s Maj. Gen. Lucius Theus Award of Excellence and the Delta Air Lines Chairman’s Club Award, which is the highest honor the company can bestow upon an employee.

Dec. 16 at 1:30 p.m.

Kent State University alumnus David Brandt of Lockheed Martin is the Commencement speaker for the afternoon ceremony on Dec. 16 at his alma mater.The 1:30 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 16, recognized graduates receiving baccalaureate degrees from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design; College of the Arts; College of Arts and Sciences; and College of Public Health. The speaker for this ceremony was David Brandt, ’82, manager of the Space Experience Center for the Space, Missile Defense and Strategic Programs team at the Lockheed Martin Government Affairs office. In this capacity, Mr. Brandt oversees the day-to-day operations of this Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. executive briefing and demonstration center. Mr. Brandt joined Lockheed Martin in May 1999. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Mr. Brandt served as a business developer at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a professional technical society, from 1997-99. From 1988-97, he held increasingly responsible positions within the National Space Society, a nonprofit space advocacy organization, including serving as executive director in 1996-97.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1958, Mr. Brandt graduated from Cleveland Heights High School in 1977 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Kent State in 1982. Mr. Brandt participated in Kent State’s Washington Program in National Issues in 1982. He later completed the master’s teacher certification program at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1985. Mr. Brandt is vice chair of operations of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ National Capital Section and a member of the Washington Space Business Roundtable. He also has served on the Lockheed Martin Corporate Volunteer Council.

View The Commencement ceremonies live 

Learn more about Kent State’s Commencement


POSTED: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 11:24am
UPDATED: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 4:58pm
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