Wigginton to speak at Lindenwood Belleville graduation

Stephen R. Wigginton, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, will serve as the commencement speaker for Lindenwood University-Belleville’s graduation ceremony this year.

“We are extremely pleased to welcome U.S. Attorney Wigginton as our 2015 commencement speaker,” said Jerry Bladdick, president of Lindenwood-Belleville. “His impressive accomplishments and unique ties to the Southwestern Illinois region make him a perfect fit to address our graduates. We are thrilled that he will be part of this year’s graduation ceremony and are anxious to hear his message to our graduates.”

Wigginton was nominated for U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois by President Barack Obama in April 2010 and was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in four months later.

Since becoming U.S. attorney, Wigginton has been recognized for his leadership in law enforcement. He received the Olympian Award from the Southern Illinois Police Chiefs Association for his leadership in tackling violent crime. He received the Extra Effort Award from the Edwardsville School District for his work in combating heroin-related crimes and his participation in Project Drugsmart. He was named chairman of the Violent and Organized Crime Subcommittee in December 2012, a position he still holds, and was appointed as the U.S. attorney’s representative on the Violent Crime Resource Working Group supporting Vice President Joe Biden’s Violent Crime Task Force.

Graduation ceremonies will be held at 7 p.m. May 18 at at the Gateway Center in Collinsville.

“The McKendree Story Project,” a unique original theater production that shares the experiences of current and former university students, faculty and staff members, is coming to McKendree University’s Hettenhausen Center for the Arts in Lebanon.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with a matinee on Sunday, March 29 at 2:30 p.m. General admission seating is free.

“We have put together a show that shares the stories of our McKendree family during this ‘Year of Communication’ on our campus,” said Michelle Magnussen, associate professor of theater. The performances conclude Global Awareness Week activities at the university.

Current and former students, faculty, staff members and alumni were encouraged to contribute their unique McKendree stories—the good, bad, happy or painful—that they thought were important to tell. Recording sessions were arranged for those who preferred not to write them down.

“The stories will be anonymous in performance,” Magnussen said. “We changed names and edited the stories to make them fit together, but did our best not to change any of the content. “Their wide variety of experiences paints the complex picture that is the life of this campus.”

Cast members are Taylor Anderson, Mignon Biggs, Victoria Day, Josh Fleming, Carliann Huelsmann, Tyler Jewell, Adam Kaul, Logyn Norris, Dakota Reed, Shaneise Tally, Chloe Thies and Natalie Van Booven. The crew includes Dawn Schmid, assistant director; with Julia Surdyke, stage manager; Jaycee Kusko, assistant stage manager; Scot Crim and Derek Anzuini, stage crew.

Southwestern Illinois College is hosting a night full of entertainment and music when George Portz and the Friends of Bluegrass make their annual appearance at the school.

This one-night concert event takes place at 7 p.m. Friday in the Belleville Campus Main Complex Theatre, 2500 Carlyle Ave.

The opening act is The Baker Family Bluegrass Band.

“The college has held this show annually since 1977, and always sells out early,” notes Coordinator of College Activities and Theater Operations Jeff Blue. “You can count on an entertaining evening full of musical varieties featuring traditional bluegrass, gospel and Cajun music.”

Tickets are $6 and can be purchased over the phone at 618-235-2700, ext. 5561, using MasterCard, VISA or Discover. Tickets are also available in College Activities, Main Complex Room 1246. For more information, visit or call College Activities at 618-235-2700, ext. 5561.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has received new accreditation from the North Central Association’s Higher Learning Commission.

“We look forward to enhancing our ever-growing reputation for delivering the highest quality education,” Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe said. “The HLC has highlighted SIUE’s culture of continuous improvement, an attribute that we will continue to emphasize.”

Along with the reaffirmation, SIUE had the opportunity to declare a new pathway for accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission, school leaders said. SIUE has elected to move to the Open Pathway where SIUE’s reporting and quality improvement initiatives will change. The University will move into a 10-year accreditation cycle with an Assurance Review or comprehensive evaluation in year four.

“The HLC has confirmed SIUE’s on-going commitment to its students,” said Dr. Parviz Ansari, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “We will continue to be successful, because of our faculty and staff’s dedicated passion for higher education.”