Two Commencement Ceremonies to be Held

The number of William Woods University graduates continues to grow at a staggering rate, so the university will hold two commencement ceremonies this May.


An executive with State Farm Insurance will speak to the graduate students and a former executive with Kellogg and Keebler Foods companies will address the undergraduates.


A total of 324 students will receive diplomas. With ceremonies in August and December, the combined number of WWU graduates since last May is a record-breaking 916.


The hooding and spring ceremony for graduate students will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, May 7, and the ceremony for undergraduates will be held at 10 a.m. May 8. Both ceremonies will be held in Cutlip Auditorium of the McNutt Campus Center.


Prior to Saturday’s commencement, William Woods will hold its traditional Ivy Chain Ceremony at 9 a.m. around Senior Lake.


Yolanda G. Holmes, an executive leadership development associate for State Farm Insurance in the Central Zone, will address students receiving master of business administration (MBA) and master of education (M.Ed.) degrees Friday afternoon. WWU will award 26 MBAs and 151 M.Eds.


Sam K. Reed, former vice chairman of Kellogg Co. and former president and chief executive officer of Keebler Foods Co., will be the undergraduate commencement speaker on Saturday morning.

Following Reed’s remarks, William Woods will grant 19 associate of arts, 16 bachelor of arts, three bachelor of fine arts, 105 bachelor of science and four bachelor of social work degrees.


Friday’s speaker, Holmes, began her State Farm career in April 1989 as a commercial underwriter in Jacksonville, Fla. She joined human resources in 1990 in the Southeastern Region, and worked in human resources in Corporate, the Mountain States Region and the Northeastern Region prior to moving to the Missouri Region in July 1999.


Holmes is a magna cum laude graduate of Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., where she majored in chemistry and biology. She is a 2002 MBA graduate of William Woods.


The Saturday speaker, Reed, was in charge of Keebler from 1996 until March 2001, when Kellogg acquired the Elmhurst, Ill.-based cookie and cracker maker. Reed, who also served on Kellogg’s board of directors, was appointed vice chairman after the deal. He retired approximately a year later.


Reed has 28 years of experience in the snack and baked food industries. At Keebler, he led the strategic development and operational execution of programs that increased shareholder value 30-fold, from $125 million to $3.8 billion in five years.