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2017 UW–Madison winter commencement takes place on Sunday

December 13, 2017 By Doug Erickson
Photo: Commencement at Kohl Center

Graduates listen to a speaker during UW–Madison’s Winter Commencement ceremony at the Kohl Center Dec. 20, 2015. Photo: Jeff Miller

Just more than 1,000 students will take part in the 2017 University of Wisconsin–Madison winter commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, at the Kohl Center.

Keynote speakers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two of Hollywood’s top storytellers, will deliver the charge to graduates. They’ll recount how they turned an undergraduate friendship at UW–Madison into a successful writing-and-producing partnership.

Their credits include the critically acclaimed television series “Lost” and the hit movie “Tron: Legacy.” Their latest creation, “Once Upon A Time,” is a fantasy-drama now in its seventh season on ABC. Kitsis and Horowitz recruited a character from the show to announce their selection as commencement speakers. View the video.

Student speaker Jada Kline will be graduating Sunday with a bachelor’s degree in political science and biology. She’ll discuss how she’s drawn inspiration from the determination of her ancestors and how Badgers should never let complacency hold back their legacies. A Chancellor’s Scholar, Kline excelled in undergraduate oncology research at UW–Madison while participating in numerous campus and community organizations, including the Wisconsin Black Student Union and the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County.

The senior class officers choose the student speaker. All graduating seniors are eligible to apply. Other speakers Sunday include Chancellor Rebecca M. Blank, Provost Sarah C. Mangelsdorf and Board of Regents member Regina M. Millner.

Every graduation ceremony is rich with personal stories. One of this year’s has been 50 years in the making. Luciano Barraza completed his doctorate in agricultural economics in 1967, but work obligations in his native Mexico and a lack of money kept him from participating in the commencement ceremony. UW–Madison has invited him back to walk across the stage Sunday.

“I think of this as the culmination of my professional career,” says Barraza, 77, now retired and living with family in San Antonio, Texas. “It’s a closing of the circle from when I started to where I finished.”

The approximately two-hour ceremony will be held as scheduled regardless of weather. In the event of snow, the university will have extra crews clearing nearby sidewalks, streets and parking lots. View the latest forecast at

For those unable to attend, the ceremonies will stream live at

Those planning to attend should allow extra time for metal detector procedures. To expedite entry into the Kohl Center, graduates and guests are encouraged to limit the number of items they bring. As they approach the gates, guests will need to remove cell phones, cameras and keys from their pockets before walking through the metal detectors. They will not need to remove items such as hats, jewelry, belts, shoes, wallets or coins. Signs outside the Kohl Center will inform graduates and guests which items can or cannot pass through the metal detectors.

Prohibited items include bags or backpacks larger than 8.5 by 11 inches, food, beverages, containers, strollers, baby carrier seats, laser pointers, noisemakers, weapons, selfie sticks, tripods, inflatables and any items deemed dangerous or inappropriate. All items and guests are subject to search. Storage facilities are not available for checking prohibited items. Items left at gates will be disposed of accordingly.

Media outlets planning to cover the ceremony are asked to request credentials by noon on Dec. 15. Please contact Meredith McGlone at 608-263-7523 or