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Three times the graduates
UWPlatteville holds a trio of commencement ceremonies
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PLATTEVILLE — Saturday’s UW–Platteville commencement was another example of the expansion of the UW System’s fastest-growing campus.

For the first time in its history, the university held three spring commencement ceremonies on one day.

UW–Platteville Registrar David Kieckhafer said the switch to three ceremonies from two in the spring was due to the increase in the number of graduates and subsequent guests.

“The intent right now is to hold separate ceremonies for each college in the spring, but hold two ceremonies in December as we have been,” he said.

The ceremonies for the 188th Commencement were held at Williams Fieldhouse.

The commencement ceremony for the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture began at 9 a.m., followed by the College of Liberal Arts and Education ceremony at 12:30 p.m. and the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science at 4 p.m.

“As you approach the completion of your experience at UW–Platteville, it is important to realize that this moment
not mark an end, just another beginning,” UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields told the graduates. “Upon your graduation and from this point forward, you are forever Pioneers.

“As Pioneers, you have the knowledge, skills and expertise you need to excel in whatever endeavor you pursue, to blaze your own path in life. Have confidence that most of what you will need already lies within you: your knowledge, your hard work ethic, your dedication, your desire to make a difference in the world.”

Among those who received a degree on Saturday was Cody Custer of Platteville, a 2000 Platteville High School graduate. Custer graduated Summa Cum Laude, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial technology management.

At 30, Custer would be considered a non-traditional-age student. Custer said he learned a great deal about himself during his university experience.

“I got a lot out of it,” he said, adding he learned the importance of diversity, what can be accomplished with hard work and how important time management is.

Cody’s wife Chelesse, a UW–Platteville graduate, was instrumental in helping him get to the finish line.

“She helped me study late nights and on the weekends,” said Cody. “She was great.”

Cody Custer has been working as a contractor at the John Deere facility in Dubuque. John Deere officials encouraged him to earn his degree and as a result, he has accepted a position with the company in Milan, Ill. His first day on the new job will be May 21.

Cody and Chelesse have two daughters: Cecilya, 5 and Chamberlyn, 3.

The College of BILSA ceremony featured 390 undergraduate students and 27 graduate student candidates. Alec Schielke, a pre-chiropractic student and biology major from Sheboygan Falls, delivered the senior speaker address.

Julie Amacher Clement, a 1982 graduate of UW–Platteville who is a radio host and producer at Minnesota Public Radio and manages Classical 24, a nationally syndicated all-live classical music service from American Public Media, delivered the principal address.

Kevin Ladwig, a 1985 UWP graduate, was the distinguished alumnus. Ladwig is one of the premier sausage researchers and developers in the U.S.

The BILSA commencement marshal was Dr. Susan Price, a retiring professor of animal science and an academic advisor at UW–Platteville who has worked with the university since 1988. Michele Belling of Lomira, Lindsay Dallmann of Brillion and Cynthia Harris of Fort Atkinson were honored as BILSA valedictorians.

The College of LAE ceremony included 222 undergraduate students and 84 graduate student candidates. Cherith Dilley of Blue River, a psychology major and criminal justice minor, delivered the senior speaker address.

The principal speaker was the Rev. Dr. Sunny Hong Kang, who works for the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families, whose father, Dr. Peter Kang, taught at UW–Platteville from 1969 to 1997.

UW–Platteville lecturer Bruce Howdle, a 1969 graduate, was the distinguished alumnus. Howdle is an internationally recognized ceramic artist and a private studio and gallery owner who was the distinguished alumnus.

The distinguished alumna was Kimberly Oomens Thorsen, who graduated from UW–Platteville in 1992 and now teaches literature to middle school students in the River Ridge Community School District in Hanover, Ill.

The LAE commencement marshal was Dr. George Smith, a retiring UW–Platteville professor of speech communication who has taught at UW-Platteville for 33 years. Dilley and William Neitzel from Verona were honored as the valedictorians of the College of LAE.

The College of EMS featured 218 undergraduate students and 24 graduate student candidates. The two senior speakers were Zachary Hebl of Solon, Iowa, and Alan Shermo of Green Bay, both mechanical engineering majors.

The principal speaker was Thomas N. Nelson, a 1959 UW–Platteville graduate in mining engineering who has spent more than 40 years in mining and construction-related industries. Larry Larson, a 1962 graduate, served as the distinguished alumnus; he has been instrumental in changing the ways that cities manage flood risk.

The EMS commencement marshal was Thomas B. Nelson, who has taught at UW–Platteville for almost 20 years, and is a tenured professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering, specializing in construction materials and pavement maintenance and rehabilitation. Ashley Mahe from Dubuque was honored as the valedictorian of the College of EMS.

“Along the way, remember to be thoughtful, insightful, and responsible citizens,” said Shields. “Accept those who may be different than you. Be active within your community and conscious of the vital issues that affect that community as well as the region, country and world. You can make a difference.”