UW-O Holds 57th Midyear Commencement

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s yearlong 150th anniversary has started to wind down, but there was one last big day of celebration ahead.

On Saturday, Dec. 18, more than 1,000 students from the Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Fox Cities campuses graduated in two ceremonies marking the University’s 57th midyear commencement.

The events were held at Kolf Sports Center on the Oshkosh campus, and included the conferring of 99 associate, 754 bachelor’s, 183 master’s and five doctoral degrees.

The morning ceremony student speaker was Amber Raygo, a public relations major from Menominee, Michigan. A TRIO Student Support Services student, she has served as president of the National Society of Leadership and Success, which provided the opportunity to speak to representatives of more than 700 colleges in a virtual event in 2020.

After graduation, she plans to work full time as executive assistant to the director of the Grand Oshkosh, a role she began in September.

The morning ceremony faculty speaker was Kristi Wilkum, an associate professor in communications studies at the Fond du Lac campus. She is impressed with the way faculty on the campus collaborate across disciplines. Her research interests include understanding how people help each other in times of need and the integration of technology in high school and college classrooms.

Nursing major Pamela Fleming, of South Milwaukee, served as the student speaker for the afternoon ceremony. Interested in science and the medical field, she discovered her passion for nursing during her teen years when she cared for her mother during a serious illness.

Following graduation, Fleming will move to the state of Washington, where she will work as a labor and delivery nurse at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle.

Another highlight of the afternoon ceremony was the awarding of an honorary doctorate to UWO alumnus Gerald Whitburn ’66, of Wausau.

Whitburn has led a remarkable life and career in scholarship, service and leadership that spans both the public and private sectors. He is the retired chair and chief executive officer of Church Mutual Insurance Co., served as secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services and held three senior positions in Wisconsin government. In addition, he was appointed to serve as a UW System Regent for nine years, earning the Board of Regents’ emeritus standing.

His dedication to public service inspired Whitburn to partner with UWO on development of the recently launched Whitburn Center for Governance and Policy Research. The center seeks to reinvigorate Wisconsin’s good government tradition by embodying Whitburn’s public service ideals.