Students walk the stage during winter 2019 commencement


Nick Moran

With warm weather finally approaching, blue caps and gowns will be walking the stage in Van Andel Arena April 26-27. Over 3,400 students are expected to receive degrees over the two days of commencement ceremonies.

The ceremonies will also serve as the last time that outgoing President Thomas Haas will hand out diplomas to students.

“Obviously we’re really excited and sad about the upcoming commencement ceremonies,” said Associate Director of Student Life LeaAnn Tibbe. “Excited about the dynamic speakers, honorary degree recipients and students graduating. Sad about this being our last commencement with T. Haas at the helm.”

Out of the 3,400 graduates, highest number of master’s degrees goes to social work, and the largest graduating major is marketing. The graduating body also features a record number of doctoral degrees, specifically nursing practice and physical therapy degrees.

In addition to three student speakers, commencement ceremonies will hear speeches from either Notre Dame University head football coach Brian Kelly, Michigan State Board of Education member Lupe Ramos-Montigny or Daniel and Pamella DeVos.

The university will also award honorary degrees to Joyce Hecht from Grand Valley State University’s Development office, Grand Valley University Foundation director Edward Hanenburg and Sylvia Kaufman, who, with her late husband Richard, founded the Kaufman Interfaith Institute.

The winners of the Alumni Association’s Outstanding Educator Award and Distinguished Alumni Award will also be presented their title.

English professor Shinian Wu was named this year’s Outstanding Educator after being nominated by his peers and selected from the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. Wu’s selection was notable due to his “lasting impact on students… extensive knowledge of grammar, his analytical mind, his subtle humor, and his sensitivity to the nuances of language” that allow him to make a connection in the classroom.