Winter Quarter Commencement Set for March 19

Ralph Munro, former Washington Secretary of State, will address Western Washington University graduates and their families in one of three winter Commencement ceremonies, and author, scientist and educator Jennifer Hahn will speak in two ceremonies March 19 in Western’s Performing Arts Center Mainstage.

Munro will also receive an honorary doctorate at the 3 p.m. ceremony, and Bellingham residents Jerry and Truc Thon will receive the President’s Award at the 9 a.m. ceremony in recognition of their service to the community.

Approximately 550 undergraduates and about 30 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, summer, fall and winter Commencement ceremonies will be held in the Performing Arts Center Mainstage. Spring Commencement will be held at Civic Field in Bellingham.

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 winter 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

Hahn, who will speak at the 9 a.m. and noon ceremonies, is an author, scientist, teacher, culinary explorer and wilderness guide. She has long made her living by sharing her love of the outdoors. She has written two books about finding wild edibles, and teaches courses in sustainable wild food harvesting at Western’s Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies and the North Cascades Institute. Hahn is also working toward a master’s degree in Environmental Studies by examining pollution contamination in Salish Sea seaweeds.

Munro will speak at the 3 p.m. ceremony, and be honored for his three decades in public service, including 20 years as Secretary of State. He was instrumental in streamlining voter registration procedures and modernizing the state’s election system. He is also known for working to ban the capture of orcas in Puget Sound, among many other accomplishments in public service.

The 9 a.m. ceremony’s student Commencement speaker will be Victor Johnson, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy. Johnson works for Lummi Natural Resources and is co-owner of Lotus Coffee Co.

Jerry and Truc Thon, who will receive the President’s Award at the 9 a.m. ceremony, are among Western’s biggest supporters in the Bellingham community. Jerry Thon, who graduated from Western in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education, has served on the Western Foundation board of directors since 2005, including a term as president, and is a member of the steering committee for the Western Stands for Washington campaign. Truc, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chemistry from Western, serves on the Board of Advisors for the College of Science and Engineering. The Thons give generously to scholarships and to other programs at Western and to other community groups.

The student Commencement speaker for the noon ceremony will be Joseph Eason, who is receiving a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Accounting and Management Information Systems. A graduate of Spanaway Lake High School and Whatcom Community College, Eason served internships with the Washington State Auditor’s Office and Symetra Financial in Bellevue.

The student Commencement Speaker for the 3 p.m. ceremony will be Tahlia Natachu, who will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature with an emphasis in Secondary Education, as well as minors in American Indian Studies, and Education and Social Justice. Natachu, from Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, served as co-chair of the Native American Student Union and presented her research on multicultural education at two academic conferences.

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 is later 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 5:30 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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 10:32am