Winter Quarter Commencement Set for March 18

Philip Rotter, a Western Washington University alumnus and longtime design consultant in New York City, will address WWU graduates and their families in three winter Commencement ceremonies March 18 in Western’s Performing Arts Center Mainstage.

Approximately 650 undergraduates and about 57 master’s candidates will receive degrees this quarter. Admission is by ticket only, and each graduate will be allowed four tickets. Overflow seating also will be available on campus.

As Carver Gymnasium undergoes a $70 million renovation project, Commencement ceremonies will be held in the Performing Arts Center Mainstage.

Winter Commencement will include three ceremonies: At 9 a.m., students will graduate from the College of Fine and Performing Arts, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, the American Cultural Studies Program, Huxley College of the Environment and Woodring College of Education. The noon ceremony will include graduates of the College of Science and Engineering, the College of Business and Economics and the Graduate School. At 3 p.m., students will graduate from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Additional viewing for the ceremony will be available in the Performing Arts Center Concert Hall, located in the same building as the Mainstage. Off campus, the ceremony will be broadcast on Whatcom County Comcast Cable Channel 26 and streamed live at

Rotter, who will speak at all three ceremonies, earned two bachelor’s degrees from Western, one in art education in 1984 and another in apparel design in 1987. Rotter spent many years as a designer for the iconic actor, singer and activist Harry Belafonte, first serving as Belafonte’s wardrobe supervisor and then as designer of his office and residence. Rotter was also a design director for Macy’s specializing in private label product development for the home. Through his company, Philip Rotter Designs, he also helped transform a variety of specialty retailers into brick-and-mortar enterprises, interpreting the look and feel of the companies’ popular catalogs into three-dimensional experiences.

The 9 a.m. ceremony’s student Commencement speaker will be Marco Morales Mendez, who is earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Cultural Studies with a minor in Education and Social Justice. A graduate of Mount Vernon High School and Whatcom Community College, Morales Mendez co-taught several classes at Western and plans to pursue a doctoral degree in American Cultural Studies.  

The student Commencement speaker for the noon ceremony will be Erica Virata, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business. Virata studied abroad in Japan during her time at Western and completed an internship at ADW Acosta in Issaquah. She was also an officer in Western’s Game Design Club, collaborating with other students to create video games and study what makes a successful game.

The student Commencement speaker for the 3 p.m. ceremony will be Jasmin Chigbrow, who is completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with concentrations in Criminology, and Law and Policing. Chigbrow, a graduate of Lakewood High School and Everett Community College, completed an internship at the law offices of Robert Butler in Bellingham. She plans to attend law school and become a prosecuting attorney. 

All guests should be seated 20 minutes before the posted time of the ceremony. Doors open an hour before each ceremony. No food or drink is allowed in the Performing Arts Center.

Following the ceremony, graduates will have the opportunity to follow WWU tradition and deposit their Western identification cards in a box that later will be cemented into Memory Walk in front of Old Main.

Guest parking is free on Commencement day and available in most lots. Visitors must observe regulations for handicapped and individually reserved spaces. Guests are advised to arrive early to avoid traffic congestion and to allow for travel time between the parking lots and gym.

Shuttle bus service will be available from the 12A parking lot off South College Drive from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until there is no demand. One of the shuttle buses will be ADA-equipped and accommodate two wheelchairs. Guests who use wheelchairs may also park in lot 11G, adjacent to the Performing Arts Center, which will be reserved for accessible parking.

Parking attendants will be available to assist guests with special parking needs. For more information or for disability accommodations contact the Registrar’s Office, (360) 650-3701.

Mary Gallagher, Office of University Communications and Marketing,, (360) 650-3617

Click the heart to favorite

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 1:38pm