William Woods Sets Commencement Records

William Woods University will graduate nearly 600 students this May, setting a record for a single commencement and for combined graduates the past 12 months.

A total of 591 students will receive diplomas, surpassing the record set two years ago by 110. With ceremonies in August and December, the combined number of WWU graduates since last May is 1,401. The previous record was 1,271, also set in 2005.
Because of the large numbers, WWU will again hold two commencement ceremonies—one for graduate education students on Friday, May 4, and one for undergraduates and graduate business students on Saturday, May 5.

An elementary school principal from Lee’s Summit will speak at Friday’s 7 p.m. ceremony, and the vice chairman of the Macerich Company will speak at Saturday’s 10 a.m. commencement. 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 9:15 a.m. around Senior Lake.

J. Michael Pragman, principal of Woodland Elementary School in Lee’s Summit and an adjunct professor for WWU, will address students receiving graduate education degrees Friday evening. WWU will award 331 master of education (M.Ed.) and 104 specialist of education in school administration (Ed.S.) degrees Friday.

Dana K. Anderson, vice chairman of the board and a partner in the Macerich Company, will be the commencement speaker on Saturday morning. Macerich is the third largest mall owner in the United States with more than 80 regional malls in 27 states.

Following Anderson’s remarks, William Woods will grant six associate of art, one associate of applied science, 20 bachelor of arts, one bachelor of fine arts, 108 bachelor of science and 11 bachelor of social work and nine master of business administration (MBA) degrees.

Friday’s speaker, J. Michael Pragman is a learning and education consultant, specializing in brain compatible learning and teaching. He has been an elementary school principal with the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District for the past 11 years, and in 2001 he opened the new K-6 Woodland Elementary School, serving 641 students. Before that, he was principal of Westview Elementary. Both have been named top 10 schools in the state for test scores.

Pragman earned his B.S. in speech/language pathology, his M.S. in elementary administration and his Ed.S. in elementary and middle school administration, all from Southwest Missouri State University. He earned his Ed.D. in superintendency from the University of Kansas.

He has been an adjunct professor for William Woods University for four years, facilitating instruction for M.Ed. and Ed.S. classes in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area.

The Saturday speaker, Anderson, joined the Macerich Company in 1966, after working in the real estate business as a developer and realtor in Topeka, Kan. His wife, Sue, is a member of the WWU Board of Trustees and his daughter, Jenee, is a current student.

A graduate of the University of Kansas with a degree in business administration, Anderson has served on the Campaign Kansas and James Naismith Society fund-raising committees for the university and is a long-time member of the Williams Educational Fund.

Anderson also serves on the board of directors of Friends of Golf, an organization that raises funds to promote and underwrite high school and college golf programs.