The Golden Graduates

Golden Grads Golden Graduates (above) attend the Fall 2016 Commencement held on Dec. 10, 2016 at the UIC Pavilion. Graduates from the University of Illinois Medical Center attended the morning ceremony, while those from the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle attended the afternoon one. (Photography by Elizabeth Monge and Troy Heinzeroth)
New University tradition honors UIC alumni who graduated 50 years ago

In their golden gowns, they stood out among a sea of black robes at the Fall 2016 Commencement held on Dec. 10, 2016 at the UIC Pavilion.

They were part of a new tradition at UIC called “Golden Graduates.” The brainchild of UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis, the Golden Graduates program honors those celebrating the 50th anniversary of their UIC graduation; in this case, the graduates of 1966. Golden Graduates from the University of Illinois Medical Campus participated in the morning graduation ceremony, while those who earned the first degrees issued from the then-University of Illinois at Chicago Circle joined in the afternoon undergraduate commencement.

Golden Grads

Golden Graduates are joined by Timothy Killeen (standing, left), president, University of Illinois System; Jeff Nearhoof (seated left), UIC Vice Chancellor for Advancement; and Michael Amiridis (standing, right), UIC chancellor.

“The way the entire audience celebrated the current generation of graduates and then extended that outpouring of warmth and love to the Class of 1966 was so generous,” says James Alexander, ’66 LAS, JD ’69 UI.

Howard Marks, ’66 LAS, echoed Alexander’s sentiments. “Marching into the Pavilion to thunderous applause was very emotional.”

The Golden Graduates also joined University leaders, as well as commencement speakers Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz for a celebratory luncheon.

“I was overwhelmed by the warmth, personalization and attention to detail,” William Johnson, ’66 LAS, MS ’68 UI, PHD ’79 UI, says of the inaugural Golden Graduates event, which was a joint effort by the UIC Office of the Chancellor and the UIC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Advancement.

UIC is looking forward to continuing the Golden Graduate tradition by inviting its 1967 graduates to participate in next December’s commencement.