The 2016 Commencement marked the 150th graduating class in Ripon College history. The College’s first graduating class was celebrated at Commencement Wednesday, July 10, 1867. Four young women were graduated: Luthera H. Adams, Harriet H. Brown, Susan A.W. Saulsbury and Mary F. Spencer. Attorney Joshua Stark, president of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Bar Association, gave the address, titled “True Success.”

This year, we graduated members of the Ripon College Class of 2016 in a ceremony beginning at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, May 15. The theme for this year’s Commencement was “Women, Athletics and Coaching: A Half Century of Progress.” Our featured guests were gold medalist and former U.S. women’s soccer coach Pia Sundhage and Elaine Coll, who founded the modern-day women’s intercollegiate athletic program at Ripon College in 1973.

Photos from the 2016 Commencement ceremony can be found here.

Speakers and Honorands

Keynote Speaker: Pia Sundhage

Pia Sundhage led the U.S. women’s national soccer team to two Olympic gold medals at the Beijing and London games in 2008 and 2012, respectively. She also was named one the 20th century’s greatest female soccer players, playing in multiple World Cups for her native Sweden. Sundhage is currently the head coach of the Swedish national women’s soccer team. She will provide the keynote address and receive an honorary degree.

Honorary Degree Recipient: Elaine Coll, professor of physical education emerita

Elaine Coll, a native of Akron, Ohio, and a graduate of Ohio University and Southern Illinois University, founded the modern-day women’s intercollegiate athletic program at Ripon College in 1973. During her 20-year career at Ripon, she coached volleyball, basketball and track and field.

Distinguished Educator Award Recipient: Molly Malone, orchestra director, Chippewa Falls Senior High School

Molly Malone teaches orchestra for grades nine through 12 at Chippewa, Wisconsin, High School. She is a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and holds a bachelor's of music degree, with emphasis in violin and piano, from Viterbo College, as well as a master's in string development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was nominated for the award by Zachary Peterson ’16.

Schedule of Events

Friday, May 13, 2016

9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Ripon College Bookstore Special Commencement Hours

3:30 p.m.: Senior Class Photo, Tri-Dorms Lawn (Rain site: Bear Auditorium)

4-5:30 p.m.: Senior Rehearsal, Bear Auditorium, Farr Hall of Science

Saturday, May 14, 2016

8 a.m.-9 p.m.: Ripon College Senior Art, Lobby, C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts

9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Ripon College Bookstore Special Commencement Hours

12:30-1:30 p.m.: Question and Answer with Pia Sundhage, Demmer Recital Hall, C.J Rodman Center for the Arts

The following Academic Receptions are for graduating majors, minors and their families:

1-2:30 p.m.: Communication, The home of Professor Jody and Jon Roy, 631 East Jackson St.

1-2:30 p.m.: Psychology/Psychobiology, Evans Center

1-3 p.m.: Biology/Chemistry-Biology/Environmental Studies/Psychobiology, The McCullough Family Lounge, Farr Hall of Science

1-3 p.m.: Chemistry/Chemistry-Biology/Physics: The home of Barbara '68 and Dr. Cris Johnson '69, 646 Lincoln St.

1-3 p.m.: Politics & Government and National Security Reception, Faculty Lounge, East Hall

1:30-2:30 p.m.: Religion, Mihaly Room, S.N. Pickard Commons

1:30-3 p.m.: Philosophy, Todd Wehr Lounge, First Floor

2:30-3:30 p.m.: Business Management/Economics, Ripon College Museum, West Hall

2:30-3:30 p.m.: Art/Educational Studies/English/Mathematics/Music/Theatre, 314 Project Space, 314 Watson St.

3-4:30 p.m.: Classical Studies/German/Global Studies and Languages, The home of Professor Geoff Guevara-Geer ’92 and Lea Cicchiello, 206 Watson St., Apt. 1.

4-5:30 p.m.: President’s Reception for graduates and their families, faculty and staff, Great Hall, Harwood Memorial Union (RSVP Requested)

5:30 p.m.: Reception for honorary degree recipients and guests, Upper Level Lobby and Pickard Dining Room, S.N. Pickard Commons

6 p.m.: Dinner for honorary degree recipients and guests, Dahm Heritage Room, S.N. Pickard Commons

8-9 p.m.: Baccalaureate Service, An interfaith service featuring senior speakers and musical performances, Demmer Hall, C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts (RSVP Requested)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Ripon College Bookstore Special Commencement Hours

9:15 a.m.: Phi Beta Kappa Induction, Great Hall, Harwood Memorial Union

9:15 a.m.: Pre-brunch Reception for honorary degree recipients (HDR brunch 9:45 a.m.), Mihaly Family Room, S.N. Pickard Commons

10 a.m.: Senior Brunch and Forum, A discussion featuring the honorary degree recipients, moderated by President Zach P. Messitte (RSVP Required: Free for graduates, $15 for guests of graduates)

  • Brunch served until 10:30 a.m. for graduates, families, friends, Trustees, faculty and staff, S.N. Pickard Commons
  • Forum from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

12:45 p.m.: Commencement Procession Assembly, Graduates will line-up on the sidewalk between East Hall and Todd Wehr Hall (In case of inclement weather, graduates should meet in Aylward Hall, J.M. Storzer Physical Education Center)

1:30 p.m.: Commencement Ceremony, Harwood Memorial Union Lawn (In case of inclement weather, to be held in Wyman Gymnasium, J.M. Storzer Physical Education Center)

Post ceremony reception: Smith Hall Lawn (In case of inclement weather, to be held in Aylward Hall, J.M. Storzer Physical Education Center) (RSVP Requested).

General Information

Where is the Commencement rain location?
Commencement will be held Sunday, May 15, whether it rains, sleets or snows. Though most of us would prefer a warm day filled with bright sunshine, the weather has been known to provide challenges in the past. Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. ceremony is planned to take place on the lawn of Harwood Memorial Union. If the weather turns sour, however, a decision will be made Sunday morning about whether to move the ceremony to inside the J.M. Storzer Athletic Center.

Should the conditions be questionable, an update about the location of the ceremony will be posted by 10 a.m. on the College’s Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as the College’s official website (

In Wisconsin, May weather can be balmy or downright frigid. More often than not, it is both on the same day. Please be prepared for changes in temperature by dressing in layers. The ceremony generally lasts an hour and a half, so it may be 50° F and cloudy at the beginning and 70° F and sunny by the end, or vice versa. Nothing compares to an outdoor Commencement ceremony at Ripon, and, if at all possible, the ceremony will be held on the Union lawn as scheduled. So dress appropriately for any changes in the weather.

Where can I park?
Free parking is available on the streets surrounding the Union; however, spots will fill fast and early. Click to view our visitor parking map. Off-street parking, denoted on the map by a P, is available in lots behind Smith Hall, on Thorne Street, at the corner of Seward Street and Woodside Avenue and off Ransom Street across from East Hall. Handicapped-accessible parking, denoted on the map with an H, is available near the Union, outside Pickard Commons and at Evans Admission Center. Handicapped parking also will be marked on Seward Street. If the ceremony is held inside the J.M. Storzer Athletic Center, free parking is available in adjacent lots and on Union and Thorne streets.

Is accessible seating and parking available?
Accessible seating and parking is available for the Commencement ceremony. Please ask an usher if you need special assistance. Individuals requiring special assistance should call the Office of Constituent Engagement at 920-748-8126 by May 6 to ensure appropriate accommodations.

When do I need to leave the residence halls?
The residence halls will close at 6 p.m. Sunday, May 15. All students must have their belongings removed and be checked out before that time. Students are reminded that they may donate unwanted items as part of the “Lighten Your Load” program (look for more information to come).

Do I need a ticket to attend the Commencement ceremony?
There are no tickets for the Commencement ceremony. Seating is first-come, first-served. While seating will be available outdoors, there are also plenty of grassy areas, and guests are welcome to bring blankets or lawn chairs. If the ceremony is moved indoors, seating will be more limited; so guests should plan to arrive early.

When and where is Commencement rehearsal?
Graduates are reminded to attend the Commencement rehearsal at 4 p.m., Friday, May 13, in Farr Hall’s Bear Auditorium. Be sure Dean Wingenbach pronounces your name correctly!

When and where is the Senior Class photo to be taken?
Seniors are reminded to show up for the class photo at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 13. A group photo of the Class of 2016 will be taken on the lawn in front of Tri-Dorms. Rain site is Bear Auditorium.

Will Starbucks be open on Sunday, May 15?
“We Proudly Brew” Starbucks, located in the lower level of S.N. Pickard Commons, will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 15. Starbucks offers hot and cold beverages, snacks and other refreshments.

What's the Baccalaureate Service? Is it religious? Who should attend?
Each year, the College includes an interfaith religious service as part of its Commencement weekend activities. Typically held the evening before Commencement, this year’s baccalaureate service will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 14, in Demmer Hall of C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts. The ceremony is created by officers of the graduating class and the religion department.

The service does not focus on any one religious faith, but rather includes readings from each of the different religious traditions represented within the senior class. Musical selections are performed by students, and a brief address also is given by an individual chosen by members of the graduating class.

All graduating seniors and their families are invited to attend this free event, as are the faculty and staff of the College.

What's the policy on honor cords?
In past years, the College prohibited the wearing of any cords or stoles other than College honor cords and Phi Beta Kappa stoles. Starting last year, all departmental honor cords, Greek stoles and other accoutrements (within reason) are now allowed during the ceremony. Those items, however, will not be provided by the College or listed in the program.

Your question not answered here?
Call or email the Office of Constituent Engagement and Career Services at 920-748-8126.

About the Theme

"Women, Athletics and Coaching: A Half Century of Progress"

Women and athletics occupied a much different role in society when Ripon College opened the Storzer Athletic Center in 1967. There were no varsity women’s sports teams on Ripon’s campus until 1973, when the U.S. Congress passed the Title IX legislation prohibiting gender discrimination by any school that received federal funds. Women athletes were present in a meaningful way at the college before Title IX. Ripon’s 1937 yearbook describes women competing in soccer, basketball, volleyball, rifle, baseball, tennis, archery, and bowling, and a Women's Sports Club was "organized for the purpose of encouraging competitive sports for the women on the campus … under the guidance of the physical education director." The first NCAA national championships for women started in the 1980s and by the early 1990s, Ripon inducted its first female Athletic Hall of Fame recipients. But even beyond varsity sports, the role of women and sport - as players, coaches, fans and participants - has changed in dramatic ways in the past half century across the world.

Today women’s sports capture the imagination of the world at hundreds of thousands of events each year. From soccer’s World Cup to the Olympics to WNBA basketball, and at every level of the NCAA, women’s sports are now prime time. More than 150,000 women compete in sports at NCAA member institutions and Ripon College has ten women’s varsity teams. An even greater number of female students at Ripon are playing intramural sports or engaging in regular fitness programs. This development is a significant departure from just a generation ago, when a woman who cared about athletics or fitness might have been looked upon as outside the norm. The trailblazing tennis star Billie Jean King said, “In the seventies we had to make it acceptable for people to accept girls and women as athletes. We had to make it okay for them to be active. Those were much scarier times for females in sports.”

Ripon College’s commencement theme for 2016 honors women, athletics and coaching as we celebrate fifty years of progress and think about what comes next, with two distinguished honorary degree recipients.

Physical Address: 300 W. Seward St. Ripon, WI
Mailing Address: PO Box 248 Ripon, WI 54971-0248
Phone: 800-947-4766
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