Commencement, Commissioning, Congratulations

By Mark Wilcox


Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz presents 2017 commencement speaker Paula Wittbrodt '93, with an honorary doctor of philosophy degree.

Saturday’s Spring Commencement is a true beginning for hundreds of graduates and new military officers. It also marks the end of an era at Michigan Tech.

Commencement ceremonies take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 5,  in the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena in the Student Development Complex. Nearly 1,000 graduates are expected to participate, with 708 bachelor’s, 229 master’s and 49 PhD degrees awarded. Sixteen students will receive more than one bachelor’s degree, while 10 students will be awarded both a master’s and PhD. One student will receive two master’s degrees.

For those unable to attend commencement, the ceremony will be streamed live.

Senator to Address Graduates

This year’s Spring Commencement speaker is US Senator Gary Peters. The Democrat from Oakland County, Michigan is serving his first term in the US Senate. He was elected in 2014 and sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Joint Economic Committee.

Prior to his election to the Senate, Peters served three terms in the US House of Representatives, from Michigan’s 9th Congressional District.

A life-long Michigander, Peters graduated from Alma College with a degree in political science. While working and raising a family, he went on to earn an MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy and a law degree from Wayne State. He also has a master’s in philosophy from Michigan State University. 

At age 34, Peters volunteered for the US Navy Reserve, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Following his commencement address, he'll receive an honorary doctor of philosophy degree from Michigan Tech.

Commissioning Ceremony

The official Army and Air Force ROTC commissioning ceremony will take place at 7:30 a.m. Saturday in the Rozsa Center For the Performing Arts. A public commissioning will also take place during Commencement. One of the new officers is Brian Nance from Fenton, Michigan, who will receive a bachelor of science in civil engineering with minors in aerospace studies and economics. He will also be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force.

Nance, who says he’s wanted to be in the Air Force since middle school, is carrying on a family tradition. “Both of my grandfathers, an uncle, and a close family friend served in the USAF,” he says. “I want to do my part to improve our world, and I see the US military as the best route to apply my skills and pursue my goals.”

Nance says the combination of a prestigious engineering program and a top-rated ROTC detachment made Michigan Tech the right choice for him.

“I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. I never had any doubts about my major, ROTC or Michigan Tech. I’ve stuck to my academic plan because I’ve loved it the whole way,” he says.

After spending a couple of weeks following graduation to travel and spend time with family, friends and girlfriend, Nance will report to Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. There he will begin undergraduate pilot training.

“This definitely was not the path I saw myself taking when I first started at Michigan Tech,” he says. “But the University and the AFROTC program opened many doors for me during my studies, for which I am extremely grateful.”

Saturday’s commencement ceremony will be the last led by University President Glenn Mroz, who steps down as president to return to the faculty at the end of next month. Richard J. Koubek, currently executive vice president and provost of Louisiana State University, will become Michigan Tech’s 10th president on July 1. 

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, the University offers more than 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Last Modified 5:57 PM, October 7, 2021