William Woods Again Sets Commencement Record

The number of William Woods University graduates continues to increase at an astounding rate, so the university will once again hold two commencement ceremonies this May.


A total of 481 students will receive diplomas—the largest number ever. With ceremonies in August and December, the combined number of WWU graduates since last May is a record-breaking 1,271.


WWU first held two ceremonies a year ago, and followed with two more in August. The December commencement was a single ceremony.


The principal of Hannibal High School will speak to the graduate students and the Missouri commissioner of higher education will address the undergraduates.


The hooding and spring ceremony for graduate students will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, May 6, and the ceremony for undergraduates will be held at 10 a.m. May 7. 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.


Darin Michael Powell, principal of Hannibal High School, will address students receiving graduate degrees Friday afternoon. WWU will award 30 master of business administration (MBA), 229 master of education (M.Ed.) and 31 specialist of education in school administration (Ed.S.) degrees Friday afternoon.


Gregory G. Fitch, who has been Missouri commissioner of higher education since January, will be the undergraduate commencement speaker on Saturday morning.

Following Fitch’s remarks, William Woods will grant two associate of arts, 16 bachelor of arts, seven bachelor of fine arts, 161 bachelor of science and five bachelor of social work degrees.


Friday’s speaker, Powell has been principal of Hannibal High School since 2001. An adjunct faculty member teaching master of education courses for William Woods University, he also was among the first group of graduates of the university’s new specialist of education degree program.


He is a member of the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and currently serves as president of the Northeast District of MASSP.


Powell completed his bachelor of science in education and master of arts in education at Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State University). He received his specialist of education in school administration at WWU’s commencement in December.


The Saturday speaker, Fitch, assumed the duties of Commissioner of Higher Education for the state of Missouri in January 2005. The Missouri system of higher education serves nearly 400,000 students and consists of 13 public four-year colleges and universities, 19 public two-year colleges, one public two-year technical college, 25 independent colleges and universities and 140 proprietary and private career schools.


Fitch most recently served as the founding president of the Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT), and prior to that, he served as executive director for the Idaho State Board of Education. He also has served in chancellor and president roles in two large community college systems, and was the vice president and dean for academic affairs in a two-year institution in South Dakota.


The new commissioner holds a Ph.D. in administration, curriculum and instruction from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, an M.A. in English from Emporia State University, and a B.A. in English with a minor in sociology and education from Washburn University in Topeka.