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Kansas Wesleyan University

Join in the celebration as the Class of 2024 gets ready to graduate. The 2024 Commencement ceremony will be held Saturday, May 11 at 10 a.m. at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center in downtown Salina. All graduates are required to RSVP with Jill Koster for the event by April 15.  All guests should be seated by 9:45 a.m. More information for guests can be found below.

Grad Finale!

Mabee Arena
April 10,
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mark your calendar! All spring 2024 Graduates are expected to attend the Grad Finale.  Your cap and gown and other on-campus resources will all be in one convenient place to assist you as you plan for the special day.

Class Photo

Pioneer Hall, Front Steps
May 10, 10:30 a.m.

This year’s class photo will be taken on the front steps of Pioneer Hall on Friday, May 10 at 10:45 a.m., immediately before the Baccalaureate Service. Please make plans to attend.

Baccalaureate Service

Click here to stream the Baccalaureate Service!

University United Methodist Church
May 10, 11 a.m.

The processional will begin from the front steps of Pioneer Hall after the class photo.

Graduate and Family Picnic

Student Activities Center and Patio
May 10, Noon

RSVP for this special graduate and family event is required to [email protected] by April 15.

Nursing Pinning Ceremony

Mabee Arena
May 10, 6 p.m.

The Nurses’ Pinning Ceremony will be streamed live online at the KWU Athletics Video Portal. Students receiving their pins should be seated by 5:45 p.m.

Commencement Processional and Marching Order

All graduates and faculty should enter the south arena doors and must report to the concourse area of the Tony’s Pizza Events Center by 9:15 a.m. to form the lines of march for the processional. Doors open at 8:30 am. A marching order will be available during the line-up for Commencement.

Commencement Photos and More

To better allow families to enjoy the commencement ceremony and ensure the safety of all guests in the arena, a professional photographer will take the photos of all graduates as they cross the stage. All graduates will be able to download these and other photos from the event free of charge in the days following graduation. Specific instructions will be made available on the main graduation page and KWU social media outlets as soon as possible.

2024 Commencement Speaker

Jernard B. Burks, B.A. ’90

Jernard Burks, of Los Angeles, will celebrate 40 years of acting in 2024. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre in 1990 from KWU, Burks studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and with the late Broadway director Gene Frankel at Frankel’s acting studio.

One of Burks’ first professional plays was the off-Broadway show Orestes directed by Tina Landau. His first major film role came in 1994 in the acclaimed film Devil in a Blue Dress with two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington.

He has been featured in several box-office hits such as The Hangover, Four Brothers, Bringing Down the House, Starsky & Hutch and Dolomite Is My Name, among others.

In the world of theatre, Burks had the honor of working with two-time Pulitzer Prize playwright August Wilson in the play Seven Guitars. He has worked in regional theatres in the U.S., including Seattle Rep, Hartford Stage and the Alley Theatre.

He has numerous television credits and can be seen in a new show called How to Die Alone.

As a writer, Burks developed a play called King of the Blues, based on the life of blues great B.B. King, which had its workshop premiere at Theatre Salina in 2013.

While at KWU, Burks was named Honorable Mention All-American and three-time First Team All-Conference as a defensive tackle in football. He was inducted into the KWU Jerry Jones Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.

Burks was onstage in numerous KWU theatre productions and was a regional finalist for the Irene Ryan Theatre Scholarship for a graduate program. Burks also won several speech tournament awards while at KWU, competing against Division 1 schools.

Burks has come back to Salina often to perform at Theatre Salina in conjunction with KWU and the city of Salina. In 2004 he and his late wife, Carla, were part of Salina’s production of The Piano Lesson.

In 2012 Burks returned to Salina to perform in Wilson’s play Fences. The Salina NAACP gave him an award that year as the guest speaker for the annual Freedom Fund Luncheon.

Burks is a widower and the proud father of his son, Jason.

Notable Events

Baccalaureate Service

University United Methodist Church
May 10, 11 a.m.

A streaming link will be available on the main Commencement page, as well as through KWU’s social media channels.

Nursing Pinning Ceremony

Mabee Arena
May 10, 6 p.m.

The Nursing Pinning Ceremony will be streamed live.

Commencement Ceremony

Tony’s Pizza Events Center Arena
May 11 at 10 a.m.

Join in the celebration as the Class of 2024 gets ready to graduate.

Graduation for Students

KWU student with president at graduation

Commencement for Guests

Student with family members at graduation