Jason Wiese | Culture Editor
March 14, 2016; 4:15 p.m.
It was announced on Monday who will be giving the commencement speeches for Lindenwood University’s graduate and undergraduate ceremonies for the 2016 Spring semester.
Billi Patzius will speak at the graduate ceremony on Friday, May 13, and W. Travis McMaken will speak at the undergraduate ceremony on Saturday, May 14. Both ceremonies will take place at the Family Arena in St. Charles. The professors were chosen by university president Michael Shonrock and Provost Marilyn Abbott. The official announcement was made via an online newsletter sent to the LU faculty.
Patzius is the interim dean of the department of Human Services and an associate professor and chair of the Criminal Justice department. She was chosen by the Lindenwood Student Government Association as Professor of the Year in 2014. Upon learning that she was chosen to speak at the graduate commencement, she was ultimately pleased.
“Honestly, I was completely floored. I was really surprised,” Patzius said. “It’s such an honor to be asked to do something like this. I really was not expecting it.”
According to Patzius, her Professor of the Year award convinced Abbott that she would have an inspirational message for the graduates.
“I really appreciate their faith in me,” Patzius said.
McMaken is an associate professor of Religion in the School of Humanities. He received the Lindenwood Scholar of the Year award for the 2013-2014 year. As honored as Patzius was to be chosen, for McMaken as the undergraduate speaker, the feeling is mutual.
“I was very appreciative of the opportunity and also a little bit intimidated by it seeing as how there will be lots of folks there and listening,” he said. “You want to make sure that students going out from the university leave with an encouraging word and motivated to succeed in their chosen path. So, it’s kind of a little bit of pressure and I’m hoping to be able to live up to the faith that the administration has in me.”
The speakers have begun coming up with ideas for what they will say when their days come. McMaken said that he wants to present his speech as a representative of the faculty, but he has “not yet put fingers to keyboard.” Patzius, on the other hand, is planning to set the bar high with her speech.
“I read something recently about how the majority of students at graduation do not remember the person who gave the commencement speech,” she said, “and, so, my goal is to try to be one of the few that is remembered so I’m putting everything I have into it.”