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No matter where you’re from, a WVU mortarboard says it all.

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University graduates will return to in-person commencement ceremonies this May.

Although some restrictions will be in place because of Covid-19, the celebrations will be no less memorable for the 4,499 who walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. Graduates from May, August and December 2020 are also eligible to participate in the exercises.

Along with greetings from WVU President Gordon Gee and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed, the graduates will be addressed by an alumna who broke barriers in the medical field.

Dr. Patrice Harris, a 3-time WVU graduate, is the speaker at all 4 commencement ceremonies. Harris is the first African-American woman to be chair of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees.

Harris earned her master’s degree in counseling and her medical degree at WVU. During that time, her passion for helping children emerged and she completed her psychiatry residency and fellowships in child and adolescent psychiatry and forensic psychiatry at the Emory University School of Medicine.

WVU will honor 4 West Virginians who have delved into exploring energy solutions, taking on the entertainment industry from all angles, creating a family-owned business that has expanded its scope into seven states and ensuring that stories and resources about the state and the Appalachian region are preserved and available to a wide audience.

Mike John is founder, president and CEO of Northeast Natural Energy, a West Virginia-based upstream natural gas company with offices in Morgantown and Charleston. NNE has drilled more than 100 Marcellus shale wells that produce enough clean-burning natural gas to heat and power 5,000 homes every day for a year.

Northeast is partnering with the state of West Virginia to do the water filtration work necessary to bring Deckers Creek back to life.

When Robert “Bob” Orders Jr., founded Orders Construction Company in 1964, it was primarily a bridge contracting firm. Since then, the company has expanded its scope of service to include industrial, mechanical, heavy highway and utility construction serving a wide range of markets in 7 states. Orders, a WVU alumnus, is on the board of directors of the WVU Foundation and is a trustee of The Nature Conservancy of West Virginia.

John and Orders will receive honorary doctorates from the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

Born and raised in West Virginia, Ann Magnuson has consistently referenced her love of her home state in song, written and spoken word, visual and performance art and theater.

Magnuson has performed opposite David Bowie, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster and Meryl Streep. She was inducted into the West Virginia Hall of Fame in 2018.

Magnuson’s honorary doctorate will come from the College of Creative Arts.

Ken Sullivan's Appalachian roots go back 200 years and he spent a career endeavoring to educate others about West Virginia’s place and importance in Appalachia and the country.

Sullivan retired as director of the West Virginia Humanities Council and before that was editor of Goldenseal, the quarterly magazine of West Virginia traditional culture. Sullivan was also the editor and principal creator of The West Virginia Encyclopedia in its print and online versions. He received the 2017 Vandalia Award from the state of West Virginia.

Sullivan will receive an honorary doctorate from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Due to health and safety protocols, ticket distribution for guests will be limited. Find updates and additional details at graduation.wvu.edu.


Saturday, May 15

9 a.m.

• Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

• College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences

• Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design

• Reed College of Media

2 p.m.

• College of Creative Arts

• Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Sunday, May 16

9 a.m.

• College of Education and Human Services

• John Chambers College of Business and Economics

2 p.m.

• College of Law

• School of Dentistry

• School of Medicine

• School of Nursing

• School of Pharmacy

• School of Public Health

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