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Graduation set at Vermilion

State chancellor Malhotra to deliver keynote address Tuesday

by Tom Coombe

As spring arrives in Ely, the school year at Vermilion Community College is coming to a close.

Graduation ceremonies are set for Tuesday on the Vermilion campus of the newly-created Minnesota North, and a special guest is slated to deliver the keynote address.

Devinder Malhotra, chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, will speak to graduates and others who gather in the school gymnasium for the 7 p.m. event.

The gymnasium is likely to be packed for the public event as graduates celebrate with family members together with school officials, teachers and staff.

Vermilion will recognize nearly 100 students who earned associate in arts, science or applied science degrees.

Another 37 have earned certificates marking graduation from one of the school’s degree programs.

After virtual commencement ceremonies in both 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the school returned to a traditional graduation event last spring and will do so again this year.

There’s a break from recent tradition, which called  for the commencement address to be delivered by a recent Vermilion graduate, in order for students to hear from Malhotra.

Malhotra is retiring in August from his role leading state colleges and universities across Minnesota.

Malhotra has served either as chancellor or interim chancellor of Minnesota State since 2017.  During that time, the system of 26 colleges and seven universities has advanced its strategic priorities towards building a system-wide identity and leveraging the advantages that come from its scale and scope as the third-largest higher education system in the country.

The commencement speech heads a full program.

Minnesota North President Michael Raich will confer degrees and offer remarks as well, joining Chris Koivisto, who serves as academic dean and heads campus operations in Ely.

Student Senate President Sam Maves will speak on behalf of the class, while faculty president Reed Petersen will announce the names of each graduate as they cross the stage.

Entertainment prior to the ceremony will be provided by Van and the Free Candies, with Vermilion student and Ely native Matthew Janeksela, accompanied by VCC instructor Sara Skelton, performing “My Wish” during the event.

The processional and recessional will be led by the Ely High School Brass ensemble, directed by Karl Kubiak and including student musicians Izzy Schiltz, Maggiee Dammann, Anna Hammond and Blake Braun Walsh.

A reception to honor the Vermilion grads will be held in the school’s cafeteria following the ceremony.

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