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Willamette University celebrates Class of 2021

by Marketing & Communications,

Sociology graduates toss their caps into the air

More than 475 students — representing the College of Arts and Sciences, Atkinson Graduate School of Management and the College of Law — graduated from Willamette University on May 16. 

The celebration for the Class of 2021 combined virtual ceremonies with in-person events for graduates and some guests. CAS departments held individual gatherings across campus while the College of Law and AGSM arranged diploma pickup events. 

Willamette honored 291 undergraduate students and featured the much-beloved Chaplain Karen Wood as commencement speaker. Wood, who had for several years given the commencement invocation, joined the class in saying goodbye to the university. She will retire in July after 19 years of service. 

The College of Law graduated about 115 students on or after May 16 and featured speaker Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne C. Nelson, who in 2018 became the first Black person to sit on the state’s highest court and on any appellate state court.  

AGSM recognized 86 graduates and five others who received their Certificate in Data Science. Their ceremony featured CEO of Abom Optics Jim Fitzhenry MBA/JD’81. 

Willamette Academy celebrated its largest class ever — 30 graduates — and nine have committed to attending Willamette University this fall. Willamette graduate Raymond White '12, who works in information services at Salem Health, gave the keynote address.

Emeriti Faculty 


Professor of Management and Global Human Resources Lisbeth Claus — 18 years of service

Professor of Marketing Elliot Maltz — 22 years of service


Professor of French Gaetano DeLeonibus — 28 years of service

Professor of Psychology Jim Friedrich — 29 years of service

Professor of Psychology Sue Koger — 28 years of service

Professor of Economics Don Negri — 31 years of service

Professor of Spanish Patricia Varas — 29 years of service

Associate Professor of Religious Studies Xijuan Zhou — 24 years of service

Photo galleries and video recordings

The online ceremonies for the colleges have been recorded and are currently being edited. They will be posted online, likely on Willamette's YouTube channel, when they are completed. Check the Commencement webpage for updates. 

Event photos are available for free download online. Here are a few images from the weekend's festivities.

Women and Gender Studies graduates and faculty outside ford hall

Graduates and faculty from the Department of Women's and Gender Studies celebrate at Ford Hall.

Chaplain Karen Wood speaks at a podium
Chaplain Karen Wood delivers the College of Arts & Sciences' Commencement address.
A person works at a computer screen on which a graduate is getting hooded
Anna Hope MBA’21 is hooded via livestream during the Willamette MBA ceremony as staff members work behind the screen to remotely feature all the graduates. 
Graduating Class Speaker Lizbeth Gonzalez Gabriel
Graduating Class Speaker Lizbeth Gonzalez Gabriel, McKay High School, addresses Willamette Academy's Class of 2021.
a masked law graduate stands distanced from a group of faculty outside diploma in hand
Meghan Graf JD'21 is celebrated by a group Willamette Law faculty and staff during the diploma pickup event outside the College of Law. 
student shakes hands with a faculty member
Professor of Computer Science Haiyan Cheng hands a diploma to Zachary Haroian '21 MS'21.
a student speaks at a podium in front of large 2021 balloons
Cameron Taggesell '21 speaks at the Department of Physics celebration.
College of Law Dean Brian Gallinin
Amber Yonamine JD'21 bumps elbows with College of Law Dean Brian Gallini.
Will Fruhwirth received a diploma from Dean Mike Hand
Will Fruhwirth MBA'20, a fall graduate of the MBA for Professionals program, receives a diploma from Atkinson Graduate School of Management Dean Mike Hand.
graduate from Willamette Academy outside
Willamette Academy graduates celebrate with staff members. From left: Benicio Patterson, Adrian Bernal, Academy Executive Director Emilio Solano, Leslie Garfias Arreola, Academy Program Director Delia Olmos-Garcia, Jazmin Morales and Fatima Villa.
computer screen with a mosaic of graduates Zoom broadcasts
Willamette MBA graduates watch the livestream of their commencement ceremony on Zoom. 
a student celebrates in front of the Star Trees with the Studio Art faculty
Bailey Joell Wright '21 poses for a portrait in front of the Star Trees with Department of Studio Art faculty members (from left) Chelsea Couch, Cayla Skillin-Brauchle and Alexandra Opie.
Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne C. Nelson
Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne C. Nelson delivers the College of Law Commencement address.
President Thorsett speaks from a podium while technitions work behind a collection of computer monitors to broadcast the interactive event.
President Steve Thorsett addresses the viewers of the virtual Willamette MBA celebration as staff technicians broadcast the interactive event live. 
A graduate stands with flowers and a diploma
Graduate Courtney Chun '21, Chinese studies and biology, receives a gift bag and kudos at a departmental celebration. 
Keynote Speaker Raymond White '12 addresses Willamette Academy graduates.
a student receives a diploma
Alexander Vasquez '21 is congratulated by Professor of Politics, Policy, Law & Ethics David Gutterman. 
Jim Fitzhenry MBA/JD ’81
Jim Fitzhenry MBA/JD ’81 addresses Willamette MBA graduates.
Micah Fleming
Sociology graduate Micah Fleming '21 speaks at the departmental celebration. 
A group of graduates on the computer screen with a "thank you mom" sign
Ryan Whithorn '21 MBA'22 acknowledges his mother via the Zoom livestream when his name is read during the College of Arts & Sciences celebration.
Rebeca Lopez at podium
Willamette Academy and Willamette University graduate Rebeca Lopez '19 delivers the alumni message at the Willamette Academy ceremony.
a professor and three graduates
Professor Amandou Fofana poses with graduates from the Department of French and Francophone Studies. 
Professor Robert Walker, graduate Tommy MacDevitt, Professor Romana Autrey
Associate Professor of Quantitative Methods Robert Walker (left) and Associate Professor of Accounting Romana Autrey (right) place a hood on graduate Tommy MacDevitt '20 MBA'21.
Law graduate surrounded by faculty all giving thumbs up
Mark Seepe JD'21 receives a diploma and enthusiastic congratulations from the Willamette Law faculty and staff at the diploma pickup event. 
technicians work to bounce between livestreams
Thank you, staff volunteers and technicians, who worked tirelessly to make the weekend's various events and livestreams a reality.


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