University Celebrates Its Newest Graduates, Holds First University-Wide Commencement Ceremony

Kent State University celebrated its newest graduates at its Spring 2017 Commencement ceremonies. In total, Kent State were conferred 5,636 degrees, including 992 associate degrees, 3,319 bachelor’s degrees, 1,139 master’s degrees, 181 doctoral degrees and five educational specialist degrees.

The One University Commencement Ceremony took place Saturday, May 13, at 10 a.m. in Dix Stadium. This ceremony marked the first time all graduates from the eight-campus system were convened and honored in one ceremony. All Kent State students and their families celebrated the occasion together.

Watch the One University Commencement Ceremony:


Academy Award-winning actress and author Octavia Spencer served as the keynote speaker for Kent State’s first One University Commencement Ceremony. Best known for critically acclaimed starring roles in films such as “The Help,” “Hidden Figures” and “The Shack,” Ms. Spencer is also the co-author of two children’s books. Her acting roles highlight stories of perseverance and tenacity that motivate and inspire audiences of all ages. Ms. Spencer’s mother, Dellsena, worked as a maid, and Ms. Spencer, the sixth of seven children, earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University. Ms. Spencer has said that she loved playing characters that have “a voice and an opinion” and were proactive in bringing about change in their communities, “ordinary women who were heroes.”

Ms. Spencer won the Academy Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress as the feisty and unflappable Minny Jackson in the film “The Help.” She also received Academy Award, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for her most recent role as mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in the drama “Hidden Figures,” the true story of several African-American mathematicians at NASA who were critical to the success of the space race in the 1960s. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ms. Spencer bought out a Los Angeles screening of “Hidden Figures” to treat low-income families who would have otherwise not been able to see the film.

The One University Commencement Ceremony was in addition to the college ceremonies currently hosted each spring at the Regional and Kent campuses. At these college and Regional Campus ceremonies, students had the opportunity to be personally recognized as they crossed the graduation stage.

The advanced degree commencement ceremony for the Kent Campus took place Friday, May 12, in the Kent State Field House. The speaker was Sandra Volpe, ’89, senior vice president of strategic planning, communications and contractor relations at FedEx Ground.

The baccalaureate degree commencement ceremonies for colleges on the Kent Campus occurred May 13 at four campus locations:

  • The ceremony in the Kent State Field House recognized graduates receiving baccalaureate degrees from the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology; College of Arts and Sciences; College of Communication and Information; and School of Digital Sciences. The speaker for this ceremony was Martin Hilovsky, ’77, ’81, CEO of Enviroscience.
  • The ceremony in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center (MAC Center) recognized graduates receiving baccalaureate degrees from the College of Business Administration; College of Education, Health and Human Services; and College of Public Health. The speaker for this ceremony was Dennis Cuneo, ’73, J.D., former senior vice president of Toyota North America.
  • The ceremony in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center recognized graduates receiving baccalaureate degrees from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and College of the Arts. The speaker for this ceremony was Christine Havice, Ph.D., retired director of Kent State’s School of Art.
  • The ceremony in the Kent Student Center Ballroom recognized graduates receiving baccalaureate degrees from the College of Nursing. The speaker for this ceremony was Rebecca S. Patton, ’80, past president of the American Nurses Association.

Watch the Advanced degree and baccalaureate degree Ceremonies

Learn more about Kent State’s Commencement

POSTED: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 8:34am
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 5:07am
University Communications and Marketing