‘Genius Grant’ recipient to address university’s largest graduating class

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‘Genius Grant’ recipient to address university’s largest graduating class
About 3,500 degrees to be awarded May 3-4

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln will grant about 3,500 degrees — a record number — during commencement exercises May 3 and 4 at Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
Craig Chandler | University Communication
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln will grant about 3,500 degrees — a record number — during commencement exercises May 3 and 4 at Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

A recognized genius will offer advice to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s largest-ever graduating class.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Malcolm Gillis University Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University and a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” recipient, will deliver the undergraduate commencement addresses May 4 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Rebecca Richards-Kortum
Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Guided by the belief that all of the world’s people deserve access to health innovation, Richards-Kortum’s research and teaching focus on developing low-cost, high-performance technology for low-resource settings. She is known for providing vulnerable populations access to life-saving health technology, focusing on diseases and conditions that cause high morbidity and mortality — such as cervical and oral cancer and preterm birth. Richards-Kortum’s work has earned her induction into the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Inventors, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She received the MacArthur grant in 2016 and was named one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders by Forbes magazine in 2017.

Richards-Kortum joined Rice University in 2005 and served two terms as chair of bioengineering. Previously, she held the Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering and was a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Texas. She earned a Bachelor of Science in physics and mathematics from Nebraska in 1985, and a Master of Science in physics and a doctoral degree in medical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987 and 1990, respectively.

Richards-Kortum will receive Nebraska’s Charles Bessey Medal during commencement. The award, which recognizes distinguished achievement in the sciences or fields grounded in the sciences, will be presented by Chancellor Ronnie Green.

Nebraska will confer about 3,500 degrees — a record number — during commencement exercises May 3 and 4 at Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

Beginning this year, spring commencement will consist of two undergraduate ceremonies — one in the morning and the other in the afternoon — with specific college assignments for each. The ceremonies are 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 4 at the arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Drive. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. for the morning ceremony and 1:30 p.m. for the afternoon celebration.

The morning ceremony will feature the colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; Architecture; Business; Fine and Performing Arts; Journalism and Mass Communications; and Public Affairs and Community Service. The afternoon ceremony will include the colleges of Arts and Sciences; Education and Human Sciences; and Engineering. Learn more.

The sesquicentennial commencement exercises kick off with a ceremony for students earning graduate and professional degrees at 3 p.m. May 3 at the arena. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Sherri Jones, dean-designate of the College of Education and Human Sciences at Nebraska, will speak at the ceremony.

Sherri Jones
Sherri Jones

Jones, currently chair of the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders and director of the Barkley Memorial Center at Nebraska, joined the university in 2012. Her research interests include the influence of genetic and/or environmental factors that may affect auditory and vestibular development and aging. She is also interested in the role or roles the vestibular system may play in physiological homeostasis, and how vestibular deficits may influence other systems such as the autonomic, cardiovascular and skeletal motor systems. Jones has taught a variety of courses in areas related to her research. Prior to arriving at Nebraska, Jones held faculty positions at East Carolina University and the University of Missouri. She earned a Bachelor of Science in speech-language pathology and audiology, Master of Science in audiology and doctoral degree in audiology/hearing science from Nebraska. She will assume her role as dean on July 1.

The College of Law will conduct a commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. May 4 at the Lied Center, 301 N. 12th St. Doors open at 1 p.m. Adam Foss, founder and executive director of Prosecutor Impact, will address the law graduates.

Adam Foss
Adam Foss

Foss is a former assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston. He is an advocate for criminal justice reform, emphasizing the prosecutor’s role in ending mass incarceration. Foss believes prosecution is ripe for reinvention, requiring better incentives and more measurable metrics for success beyond “cases won.” He earned a Bachelor of Science in developmental biology and embryology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 2002 and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 2008.

The May graduation ceremonies will feature a rollout of updated robes and regalia for Nebraska graduates, administrators and marshals. All robes will include the Nebraska “N” and feature a red and black design alongside traditional colors used for regalia and doctoral hoods.

Green will preside over the commencement exercises.

To maintain a secure environment, Pinnacle Bank Arena enforces a clear-bag policy that limits the size and type of bag that may be brought into the venue. Details are available here. To avoid inconveniences, guests are encouraged to arrive early and travel light.

No tickets are required for the ceremonies. The public may sit in any non-reserved seats other than on the main floor, which is set for graduates, faculty and dignitaries. Handicap seating is available on the concourse level in Sections 106, 107, 112, 114, 117 and 118. Beverage stands will be open. Open captioning for people with hearing impairment will be provided through the ribbon screens at the corners of the arena concourse level. For Pinnacle Bank Arena seating charts, click here.

Guest services and first aid will be on Level 3 at Gate 112.

Paid parking, including handicap spaces, is available in Haymarket area garages and on the street. Parking in the Red 1 Garage, 555 R St. at $3 per vehicle, can be reserved and paid in advance here. Pinnacle Bank Arena's north lobby entrance will not be open for commencement.

A drop-off area for mobility-restricted guests will be available on the south side of the post office building, 700 R St., directly east of the arena.

Parking maps are available here. Street closures in the Haymarket area will be in effect May 4 due to the Farmer's Market. Street congestion may occur.

Graduating students are to check in at 2 p.m. for the graduate and professional degrees ceremony; 8 a.m. for the morning undergraduate ceremony; 1 p.m. for the College of Law ceremony; and 2 p.m. for the afternoon undergraduate ceremony. Graduates and their guests are asked to stay for the entire ceremony.

The ceremonies will be streamed here and broadcast live on Spectrum channel 1303, Allo channel 23 and Kinetic channel 1080.