Commencement ceremonies

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UIC celebrates the Class of 2017 during its commencement ceremonies May 3–7.

Sheryl Underwood, comedian, UIC graduate and host of CBS daytime show “The Talk,” and Carlos Tortolero, founder and president of the National Museum of Mexican Art, will receive honorary degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa, the mayor of Mexico City, will receive an honorary degree from the College of Medicine. Kevin Lynch, vice president of technology at Apple, will receive an honorary degree from the College of Engineering.

More than 5,300 degrees will be awarded at 14 college ceremonies.


Rudy ValdezWed. May 3, 7 p.m.  /  UIC Forum

Rudy Valdez, 787 EIS systems engineering lead at Hamilton Sundstrand, is commencement speaker.

Valdez is an aftermarket systems engineering lead for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. He previously was director of operations for the space division of Hamilton Sundstrand.

Valdez received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from UIC in 1987.




Thurs. May 4, 1 p.m.  /  UIC Pavilion

Afaf Ibrahim MeleisCommencement speaker is Afaf Ibrahim Meleis, professor of nursing and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Meleis is an internationally renowned nurse scientist and medical sociologist. Her five decades of scholarly contributions have informed generations of nurses around the world and influenced their education, practice and research programs.

She previously was the Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing and director of the school’s WHO Collaborating Center for Nursing and Midwifery Leadership from 2002 through 2014. Before her work in Pennsylvania, she spent 34 years as a professor at the University of California San Francisco and Los Angeles.



Thurs. May 4, 2 p.m.  /  UIC Forum

Tim GroverTim Grover, owner of Attack Athletics and Michael Jordan’s personal trainer, will give the commencement speech.

Grover has also trained Hall-of-Famers and champions such as Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and hundreds of other star athletes.

He is the author of Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable and Jump Attack.





Thurs. May 4, 6:30 p.m.  /  UIC Pavilion

Gloria Ladson-BillingsGloria Ladson-Billings, scholar and distinguished professor at the University of Wisconsin-
Madison, is commencement speaker.

Ladson-Billings is the Kellner Family Distinguished Professor in Urban Education in curriculum and instruction and faculty affiliate in educational policy studies, educational leadership and policy analysis and Afro American studies.

Her research examines the pedagogical practices of teachers who are successful with African American students.




Thurs. May 4, 7:30 p.m.  /  UIC Forum

Russell SecterRussell Secter, president of Regennera Therapeutics, will give the commencement address.

Secter has about 30 years of sales and marketing experience in the pharmaceutical industry, spanning traditional medical markets, generic pharmaceutical markets, dental pharmaceutical markets and biopharmaceutical company startups. Previously, he was CEO of PDx Biotech and president of OraPharma, a company acquired by Johnson & Johnson.

He received his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from UIC in 1978.




James GleesonFri. May 5, 9 a.m.  /  UIC Pavilion

James Gleeson, associate professor of social work, is commencement speaker.

Gleeson will retire from UIC in May. During the ceremony, he will be awarded the Jane Addams College of Social Work Pioneer Award, which was established to recognize alumni who have made significant, innovative or pioneering contributions to a community, state, or nation consistent with the mission of the college.




Fri. May 5, 10 a.m.  /  UIC Forum

Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” García

Cook County Commissioner Jesús “Chuy” García is commencement speaker.

Garcia is the commissioner for the 7th District on the Cook County Board.

In 1992, he ran for Illinois State Senate and became the first Mexican-American elected. He ran for mayor in 2015 and forced the first run-off election for that position.

He received his bachelor’s in political science and master’s in urban planning at UIC.




Fri. May 5, 2 p.m.  /  UIC Pavilion

Pedro “Joe” Greer Jr

Pedro “Joe” Greer Jr.

Pedro “Joe” Greer Jr., professor of medicine at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, will make the commencement address.

Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa

Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa

Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa, the mayor of Mexico City, will receive an honorary degree during the ceremony.

Greer is an advocate for health equity by engaging communities to create effective health and social policies and accessible health care systems.

He previously ran a private practice and was chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Mercy Hospital in Miami.

Mancera, who has served in his role since 2012, is widely regarded as one of Mexico’s most effective political leaders. His administration has distinguished itself by its significant advances in health care and administrative reform, as well as its opposition to human trafficking.




Fri. May 5, 3:30 p.m.  /  UIC Forum

Julie Morita

Julie Morita, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, will speak at commencement.

Since Morita assumed her role in 2015, the city’s public health department has developed and launched Healthy Chicago 2.0, a four-year plan to assure healthy equity by addressing the social determinants of health. The health department has also recently led efforts to pass several tobacco prevention initiatives, including raising the age for purchasing tobacco products to 21.

She previously was the health department’s chief medical officer, leading the city’s response to the pandemic influenza outbreak.



Sat. May 6, 9 a.m.  /  UIC Pavilion

Donald HermanekCommencement speaker is Donald Hermanek, chief client officer for Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc.

Hermanek received his bachelor’s in marketing from UIC in 1970.

Hermanek has more than 35 years’ experience in the automotive claims and salvage industry.

He previously was vice president of business development for Consolidated Services Corp., vice president of National Sales for Safelite Glass Corporation, and vice president of sales for ADP.



Clark StanfordSat. May 6, 10 a.m.  / UIC Forum

Clark Stanford, dean of the College of Dentistry, is commencement speaker. Former associate dean for research and professor of prosthodontics at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, he is a researcher whose work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, private foundations and industry.

He is the author of 20 book chapters, 117 published papers and more than 140 research abstracts.



Sat. May 6, 2 p.m.  /  UIC Pavilion

Trina RoyTrina Roy, a senior software developer at Pixar Animation Studios, is commencement speaker.

Kevin Lynch, vice president of technology at Apple, will receive an honorary degree during the ceremony.

Kevin LynchRoy, who received her master’s in computer science from UIC in 1995, was a research assistant in the Electronic Visualization Laboratory.

She started her software career at Silicon Graphics, Inc., before starting at PDI/DreamWorks, where she wrote physics-based simulation code for Shrek.

At Apple, Lynch has focused on the software of the Apple Watch and the company’s health software. Before he joined Apple in 2013, he was chief technology officer at Adobe.



Kevin CovalSat. May 6, 7 p.m.  /  UIC Pavilion

Commencement speaker is poet, author and educator Kevin Coval.

Coval is the founder of the Louder Than A Bomb poetry festival, editor of The BreakBeat Poets, artistic director of Young Chicago Authors, and frequent guest on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam.” His acclaimed new book, A People’s History of Chicago, features 77 poems and a foreword by former student Chance the Rapper.





Sun. May 7, 10 a.m.  /  UIC Pavilion

Henry Bienen

Henry Bienen

Henry Bienen, president of The Poetry Foundation, will give the commencement address.

Sheryl Underwood

Sheryl Underwood

Sheryl Underwood, comedian, UIC graduate and host of CBS daytime show “The Talk,” and Carlos Tortolero, founder and president of the National Museum of Mexican Art, will receive honorary degrees.

Bienen served as Northwestern University’s president from 1995 to 2009 and continues to serve as president emeritus. The Poetry Foundation, which he currently leads, aims to discover, celebrate and share the best poetry. The organization publishes Poetry magazine, which was founded in Chicago in 1912 and is the oldest monthly magazine devoted to verse in the English-speaking world.

Carlos Tortolero

Carlos Tortolero

Underwood, a 1987 graduate in communication and theatre, is owner and CEO of Pack Rat Productions. She is the founder of Pack Rat Foundation for Education, working to support historically black colleges and universities and students in higher education.

Tortolero founded the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago in 1982. He received his bachelor’s in secondary education and history at UIC.

He previously was a teacher, counselor and administrator in the Chicago Public Schools system. He was a member of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2011.

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