2016 Commencement Schedule and Speakers Announced

June 28, 2017

On Sat., May 7, 2016, UMD's bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree commencement programs will be held in two ceremonies.

News Release — For info contact Lori Melton, lmelton@d.umn.edu, 218-726-8830.

At 10 am, graduates and undergraduates from the College of Education and Human Service Professions (CEHSP), the School of Fine Arts (SFA), and the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) will receive their degrees. 599 graduates and undergraduates are participating in the 10 am ceremony.

At 3 pm, graduates and undergraduates from the Labovitz School of Business and Economics (LSBE) and the Swenson College of Science and Engineering (SCSE) will receive their degrees. 719 graduates and undergraduates are participating in the 3 pm ceremony.

A total of 1,975 students will graduate from UMD this year. UMD will confer 1,814 bachelor's degrees, 158 master's degrees, and 3 doctoral degrees.

For family and friends who can't make it to commencement, UMD will also be streaming its ceremonies. LiveStreaming will start on Saturday, May 7, at 9:45 am and close at the end of the morning ceremony. It will then go live again at 2:45 pm until the end of the afternoon ceremony.

senator al franken

Senator Al Franken

Senator Al Franken, Commencement Speaker

First elected in 2008, Al Franken is serving his second term in the U.S. Senate. Before running for office, he spent 37 years as a comedy writer, author, and radio talk show host. He has also taken part in seven USO tours, visiting and performing for our troops overseas in Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Uzbekistan, as well as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait four times. He met his wife Franni in 1973, and they've been married for over 40 years. They have two grown children, Thomasin and Joe, and two young grandchildren, Joe and Jacob.

After arriving in Washington, D.C., Senator Franken sought a seat on the Education Committee, where he has made college affordability a top priority. One of his first efforts was to organize college affordability roundtables at schools across the state – including UMD – to allow students to discuss that important issue. Since then, he has pushed several measures to bring college costs down, and introduced legislation to allow students to refinance their loans, to strengthen Pell Grants, and to provide other resources to make a college education more affordable and accessible. 

2016 Student Speakers

At the 10 am ceremony: 
Skye Johnson
College of Education & Human Service Professions
Social Work

Most people would agree that there are lessons in life that aren’t taught in a classroom. Those lessons are often hard and painful. The beauty of college is that sometimes those life lessons become the foundation for an area of study. Skye Johnson took the pain and confusion of a difficult childhood and transformed it into a degree in Social Work, with a minor in Psychology. In addition to a full course load, she’s held a full time job since sophomore year. For the past two years, she's worked at Woodland Hills on the mental health team, supporting youth ages 12 to 18. She is proud of her work. “When I was a kid, I had to go through a lot things by myself,” Skye says. “I get to be there for the kids day-to-day and develop a rapport with them.” Skye plans on staying in Duluth, continuing to make a difference in the lives of young people.

At the 3 pm ceremony: 
Carissa Kloncz
Swenson College of Science & Engineering
Chemical Engineering B.S.Ch.E.

When she arrived at UMD, Carissa hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped since. An interest in solid biofuels at Burnsville High School led her to an internship at UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute, where, since her freshman year, she has focused on repurposing waste materials and advancing wood energy products. She served as president of both the Society of Women Engineers and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at UMD, mentoring underclassmen and encouraging them in their exploration of engineering. Her passion for involvement has extended into the community. She volunteered at local science fairs and introduced middle school students to engineering concepts during a hands-on “Spring Into Engineering” event earlier this year. A Chemical Engineering major with minors in Environmental Engineering and Energy Engineering, Carissa envisions her dream job in product development within the alternative energy industry. But, as she’s quick to point out, “there are endless opportunities.”