UW-Green Bay celebrates 100th Graduating Class

Classes of June 1970 and December 2019 strike similarities including commitment to service and community

Green Bay, Wis.—It started humbly in UW Center’s Deckner Gymnasium in June of 1970. Seventy-eight members of the first graduating class received their diplomas from the fledgling University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Twice a year since, the University community has gathered to honor and congratulate graduates in a formal ceremony.

On Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, 432 students—members of the University’s 100th graduating class—will participate in Commencement, boosting UW-Green Bay’s alumni total to nearly 39,500. The official ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.

Serving as the formal commencement speaker will be UW-Green Bay faculty member Patricia Terry. The tenured professor and accomplished Ironman and ultra-marathon participant is approaching her 25th year at UW-Green Bay. “If you’re going to run, run a marathon. Go to college? Get a Ph.D. Work at a university? Achieve the rank of full professor,” she says. Terry, who helped launch the engineering technology degree and sits as the inaugural chair of the Resch School of Engineering, will bring her confidence, experience and wisdom to the stage.

Here’s a look back at the first ceremony:

“The University’s first commencement, on June 1, 1970, was planned as an outdoor ceremony,” according to a 1970 press release from UW-Green Bay. “According to plan, graduates would be escorted by faculty members, one at a time, up the steps of the concrete plaza, under blue skies, with flags waving in the breeze above them. Rain and wind chased the celebration into the Deckner gym. Nancy Ably of Green Bay was the first to cross the platform and receive a diploma from Chancellor Edward W. Weidner. The class was predictably mature: Helen Glickman, at 47, was the oldest of the 78 seniors, all of whom had completed most of their undergraduate education elsewhere. One-third of the group were aged 30 or older.” As commencement speaker, New York Times columnist Max Lerner spoke on the theme “Angles of Vision.” Gov. Warren Knowles saluted the University as an institution representing a “new wave of educational thought at a school destined to become a truly great university, as it offered an education tuned in to social concerns.”

See more from the press release for UW-Green Bay’s very first Commencement.

UW-Green Bay’s 100th graduating class holds similarities, including a mature class (27 is the average age of undergraduates and 36 the average age of graduate students). A third of the class of 1970 had reach 30 years of age. Environmental Sciences is still popular among graduate programs. While UW-Green Bay seniors in 1970 found themselves in the middle of anti-Vietnam War sentiments and peaceful demonstrations, UW-Green Bay’s current senior class of veterans (31 in active duty and 74 spouses or children of military veterans) are well-supported by the University community, from admission to graduation. Some of those success stories include:

Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) graduate Ginger Turck, Green Bay, is among those crossing the stage. Her long journey to a degree has included several different careers, negotiating an active duty injury and juggling family commitments. She graduates with the hope of serving in a veteran’s hospital. (More on her story can be found at www.uwgb.edu).

Fellow veteran Andrea Ackerman, De Pere, returned stateside just in time (Dec. 6, 2019) to graduate, after a one-year deployment. She was able to complete, from Afghanistan, her degree requirements for a Master’s Degree in Applied Leadership for Teaching and Learning. Her line of inquiry for the master’s program has focused on the use of community gardens in assisting veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. She also put her leadership skills to use by creating an on-base community garden, while overcoming the obstacles of little soil, few seeds and blistering hot conditions. She will begin implementing community gardens in Northeast Wisconsin this summer.

The first class and the 100th also share a commitment to service and are active and engaged citizens:

Nominated by faculty members and selected as student speaker is Hannah Malmberg (Green Bay West, Political Science and Communication). “She is always serving others, in the most profound ways,” said a faculty member. Described as a student who “embraced all her opportunities,” Malmberg’s list of accomplishments earned her a Chancellor’s Medallion and also included incredible portfolio-building opportunities. Among them: she was an active member of Habitat for Humanity, she served as a peer mentor for low-income and/or first-generation students, she was one of 13 students selected to work in the Political Science Research Lab, she served as a resident assistant, and she worked at two highly competitive internships—at Green Bay City Hall and NEW Water.

Captain of the Green Bay Phoenix men’s golf team, Bennett Hutson (Onalaska, Wis., Mechanical Engineering Technology) volunteered to help young athletes with disabilities and helped tutor student athletes. He also served as co-president of the Engineering Club and was volunteer chair of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Hutson also organized a project that provided delivery of leftover food from dining services to a homeless shelter.

Becky Berry, (Marinette, Wis., Environmental Science) a Marinette Campus transfer, hopes to earn a Ph.D. and one-day enter into politics. Her research on cyanobacteria has continued for six semesters and has been presented nationally, and at the 2017 International BMAA conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. (BMAA is a ubiquitous cyanobacterial toxin linked to neurodegenerative diseases.) Before transferring to the Green Bay campus, she served on the Lower Menominee River Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

Bruna Muraca (Political Science and History), an international student from Brazil, hopes to build on her UW-Green Bay experiences to pursue a career in international relations at the United Nations with an emphasis in environmental affairs. She is a passionate advocate for human rights in areas including education, poverty eradication, gender equality, clean water and sanitation and climate justice. She recently applied for an internship with the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at The Hague in the Netherlands.

More on UW-Green Bay’s 100th Graduating Class:

    • 396, or 92 percent, are receiving a Bachelor’s Degree
    • 35, or 8 percent, of graduates are receiving a Master’s Degree
    • 18 students are graduating with a 4.0 GPA (12 graduate, 6 undergraduate)
    • 12 graduates entered UW-Green Bay through the Phuture Phoenix program
    • 42 percent are first-generation students
    • 68 percent are female; 32 percent are male
    • 27 is the average age of the undergraduate students
    • 36 is the average age of the graduate students
    • 19 states are represented in the graduating class, including Wisconsin (412), followed by Michigan (9) and Illinois (5)
    • 36 graduates are Green Bay Area Public School (GBAPS) graduates (Preble-17, Southwest-6, West-8, East-5)
    • Top number of graduates from high schools outside of GBAPS (Bay Port-16, Pulaski-12, Marinette-9)
    • Top three graduate programs by degrees granted—Health Management Wellness (11), Data Science (6) and Environmental Science and Policy (5)
    • Top five undergraduate programs by degrees granted—Business Administration (68), Psychology (59), Human Biology (34), Nursing (29) and Education (27)

Members of the media should contact Sue Bodilly, bodillys@uwgb.edu, to set up interviews with graduates. Media credentials are required at the ceremony.


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