May 3, 2021
Contact: Sara Diedrich, 573-823-3243, DiedrichS@missouri.edu
This week, the University of Missouri begins honoring the accomplishments of 5,547 students with more than 6,115 degrees as Mizzou’s in-person graduation celebrations begin. The spring graduates will join nearly 340,000 living Mizzou alumni around the world. Through a series of socially distanced ceremonies, university officials are excited to recognize the class of 2021 for their perseverance.
“Our Class of 2021 has overcome enormous challenges to succeed,” MU President Mun Choi said. “We are so proud of their strength, dedication and commitment to excellence. Last year, we could not be sure that we would be able to honor their remarkable achievements appropriately. We are so excited and grateful to be able to do so now.”
Yasmeen Taranissi is set to receive three degrees, a bachelor’s in economics, a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s in accounting. She said that in committing to Mizzou, she also committed to a wide array of degree options that gives students space to be uncertain as their direction changes throughout their college career. That flexibility was helpful for her as she realized that she wanted to devote more time to the field of inclusivity, diversity and equity, both during college and in her post-graduate career.
Among the work she did while at Mizzou, Taranissi collaborated with others in the College of Business to develop a system of support for marginalized students who have faced discrimination and harassment. Now, she is looking forward to working as a financial services consultant for Ernst and Young in Chicago, a corporation that does work related to inclusion, diversity and equity.
“I was really nervous that I would get to the finish line and not have really done anything,” Taranissi said. “So I’m surprised by how much I have done and how proud I feel. Just by being here, being present, tapping into all the different opportunities that Mizzou has and using my voice in the right places, I’ve been able to do some really awesome things.”
Even though Avery Dalal’s commencement ceremony is bright and early at 8 a.m. Sunday, he’s excited to have an in-person ceremony. As the vice committee chair for MU’s chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), it’s been a challenge for him not to meet in person with the organization he cherished for most of his time here. Mizzou was his first choice since high school because of his desire for a robust journalism education. He said he has NABJ to thank for shaping so much of that experience.
“I'm an Indian person, and there's not many Indian people in the j-school,” Dalal said. “So I found my community within NABJ. It taught me a lot about how to be an ally and an advocate, and how to be respectful of others’ boundaries. It's taught me so much, and I hope I was able to teach as well.”
This summer, Dalal will be returning to his hometown of Dallas as a fellow for the Dallas Morning News.
Honorary degrees given out this year go to Dan Hagan, a self-made entrepreneur from Columbia, who attended MU from 1969 to 1972, and John D. Graham, chairman of FleishmanHillard, who graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1959. Additional biographical information on honorary degree recipients can be found below.
The 6,126 degrees awarded include 4,235 bachelor’s degrees, 1,080 master’s degrees, 329 doctorates, 82 law degrees, 58 education specialist degrees, 115 veterinary medicine degrees and 122 medical degrees and 105 professional degrees. Some students will receive more than one degree. More than 845 online students, who come from 46 states, Washington, D.C., and seven countries, also will be celebrated throughout May. Graduates in distance degree programs range in age from 20 to 82.
“We are excited to be able to host an in-person ceremony and look forward to celebrating the hard work of our graduates,” Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Latha Ramchand said. “We have planned the event, so it allows us to applaud our graduates and rejoice with their families, while doing so in a socially distanced and safe setting that respects public health guidelines for such events. In addition, we have worked hard to ensure that live-streaming allows friends and family members who are unable to attend in-person, the opportunity to watch the event in real-time.”
Schedule of events
Friday, May 7 – (ALL) Mizzou Arena:
- 9:00am - 10:15am – Graduate-PhD
- 1:00pm - 2:15pm – School of Health Professions
- 4:15pm - 5:30pm – Sinclair School of Nursing
Saturday, May 8 – (ALL) Mizzou Arena:
- 8:00am - 9:15am – #1 Graduate- Masters EdSP
- 11:15am - 12:30pm – #2 Graduate- Masters EdSP
- 2:30pm - 3:45pm – #3 Graduate- Masters EdSP
- 5:45pm – 6:45pm – #4 Graduate- Masters EdSP (tentative)
Sunday, May 9 – (ALL) Mizzou Arena:
- 11:15am - 12:30pm – College of Veterinary Medicine
- 2:30pm - 3:45pm – College of Education
- 5:45pm - 7:00pm – Honors College
Friday, May 14 – (ALL) Mizzou Arena
- 9:45am - 11am – #1 College of Arts & Science
- 1:00pm - 2:15pm – #2 College of Arts & Science
- 4:15pm - 5:30pm – #3 College of Arts & Science
- 7:30pm - 8:45pm – #4 College of Arts & Science
Saturday, May 15
- 8:00am - 9:15am – #1 Trulaske College of Business (Mizzou Arena)
- 11:15am - 12:30pm – #2 Trulaske College of Business (Mizzou Arena)
- 12:00pm – 1:15pm – #1 College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (Hearnes Center)
- 2:30pm - 3:45pm – College of Engineering (Mizzou Arena)
- 3:15pm - 4:30pm – #2 Trulaske College of Business (Hearnes Center)
- 5:45pm - 7:00pm – College of Human Environmental Science (Mizzou Arena)
- 6:30pm - 7:45pm – #3 Trulaske College of Business (Hearnes Center)
Sunday, May 16:
- 8:00am - 9:15am – #1 School of Journalism (Mizzou Arena)
- 11:15am - 12:30pm – # 2 School of Journalism (Mizzou Arena)
- 1:00pm - 2:15pm – School of Medicine (Hearnes Center)
- 2:30pm - 3:45pm – #1 School of Health Professions (Mizzou Arena)
- 4:15pm - 5:30pm – School of Law (Hearnes Center)
- 5:45pm - 7:00pm – #2 School of Health Professions (Mizzou Arena
Links to live streams will be available here.
Dan Hagan Biography
Dan Hagan is a self-made entrepreneur from Columbia, who has made a name for himself in real estate and business. Now, he is using his success to support his philanthropic goals.
Hagan, a Missouri native, grew up attending four very small rural public schools located in Fayette, Green City, New Franklin and Tina-Avalon, Missouri.
Hagan attended MU from 1969 to 1972. While attending Mizzou, he used savings from employment to invest in real estate and common stock and was successful in his endeavors.
In 2011, Hagan shifted a considerable amount of his time, energy and resources to philanthropic pursuits. Because of his experience growing up in rural Missouri and working throughout high school and college, Hagan was inspired to help students from similar backgrounds. In 2008, he established the Hagan Scholarship Foundation (HSF) with the sole purpose of “helping rural students graduate from college debt free”.
Since its inception, HSF has awarded 2,452 scholarships, with 450 of them being granted in April of 2021. Currently, 194 HSF recipients will attend, have attended, or have graduated from schools in the University of Missouri system.
For many rural and small-town students, attending college can be difficult because of limited financial resources. The median household income for Missouri counties with populations less than 50,000 is $37,520, nearly $15,000 less than the national median household income.
“College is something that many people in my small town did not see as a possibility,” said Elizabeth Ferguson, HSF recipient and 2018 Mizzou graduate. “Dan Hagan and the Hagan Scholarship Foundation has changed the lives of many members of our community.”
The Hagan Scholarship provides each recipient up to $48,000 over four years to attend college. In addition, HSF establishes a $15,000 account for each second-year recipient to manage until graduation in order to learn “first-hand” how to invest to attain financial security, and a $2,000 personal brokerage account for each fourth-year recipient. Recipients also benefit from HSF funded workshops and study abroad.
Most recipients who graduate from college while a Hagan Scholar graduate debt-free with more than $5,000 in their personal brokerage account and the knowledge to attain long-term financial security.
As the sole contributor, Hagan has established a $200 million foundation. He personally responds to every inquiry and performs the work for the foundation, assisted as needed by long-time volunteers who are community leaders in Columbia.
Hagan has become a role model and mentor to many of the Hagan Scholarship recipients. He ensures the students are prepared for college, and for their professional and personal life after college.
“The award was so much more than just financial support,” said Kayla Elam, HSF recipient and 2015 MU graduate. “Dan invested in us, the recipients, as people.”
Through his foundation, Hagan has served not only MU, but also the nation as a whole. With 6,865 eligible public high schools, high-achieving students across the United States with substantial financial need are provided the opportunity to continue their education. This fall, 1,147 Hagan Scholars from 46 states will attend 406 colleges and universities.
John D. Graham Biography
John D. Graham, chairman of FleishmanHillard, has truly exemplified the Missouri Method and made his mark on strategic communications.
The St. Louis native graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in 1959 on both athletic and curators scholarships. Graham first joined FleishmanHillard in 1966, when it was just a small public relations firm with a single office. He quickly rose in the ranks, becoming CEO in 1974 and serving in that position for more than 30 years. Under his leadership, the agency grew to become a major global media and communications firm widely regarded as one of the top crisis communications organizations in the industry, with more than 80 offices spanning six continents.
During his years at the agency’s helm, Graham helped build FleishmanHillard’s strong reputation by using strategic communications to deliver what clients value most: meaningful, positive and measurable impact on the performance of their organizations. Over the years, Graham has worked in nearly all aspects of public relations, including public affairs, financial strategy, corporate strategy, investor relations and crisis situations. Graham’s leadership is grounded in having a vision and then backing it up with a deep personal commitment and great people. After more than three decades as CEO, Graham handed off the top post in 2006 and now serves as chairman.
Graham co-founded the Council of Public Relations Firms and serves as a member of various other public relations organizations, including the International Public Relations Association and the Public Relations Society of America.
Graham is a global leader in the public relations field and is highly regarded for his contributions. As chairman of FleishmanHillard, Graham remains active in planning and implementing communications programs for a number of the agency’s largest clients and takes pride in the many accomplishments of current management.
Graham’s success doesn’t stop at FleishmanHillard. He has received numerous awards, including being named PR Professional of the Year by PRWeek and becoming only the third agency public relations executive to be inducted into the Arthur W. Page Society Hall of Fame. In 2002, the Missouri School of Journalism awarded him the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism.