The Parkland College Blog

International Studies Head to Offer Commencement Keynote

Johns Hopkins' Craig Osborne to provide virtual address May 22

US Army Col. (Ret.) Craig Osborne, chief of staff of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), will deliver the keynote address during Parkland College's 2020 Virtual Commencement Exercises, Friday, May 22, at 7 p.m. via YouTube. The public is invited to visit Parkland's commencement page for a link to the ceremony. Col. (Ret.) Craig Osborne

Osborne retired from active duty in 2019. His 30 years of service in the Army include five combat deployments and participation in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Joint Guard, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. The Decatur, Illinois, native currently helps lead Johns Hopkins' renowned school of international affairs, with campuses in Washington, DC; Nanjing, China; and Bologna, Italy.

In 1989, Osborne earned a Bachelor of Science in History from Illinois State University along with a commission through the ROTC program as an Army infantry officer. He has also earned an MS in Adult, Occupational, and Continuing Education from Kansas State University; an MMAS in Military Planning and Operational Design from the US Army Command and General Staff College; an MS in National Security Strategy from the National War College; a Graduate Certificate in Advanced International Affairs from the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University; and a Certificate in Business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Among his many awards and decorations, Osborne has twice been presented the Defense Superior Service Medal by the Secretary of Defense as well as the Legion of Merit, five Bronze Star Medals for actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge with Star, the Senior Parachutist’s Badge, the Pathfinder Badge, and the Ranger Tab. He has also received four military awards from the German Government, and he is a recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award for the Army.

Parkland College's 53rd commencement will include a welcome from college administrators President Thomas Ramage and Board of Trustees Chair Bianca Green. New to this year's commencement will be a faculty address and student award presentations. Both segments typically occur during Parkland College's annual Honors Convocation. Retiring economics Professor Amy Myers will provide the faculty address to graduates. 

Student presenters for the virtual ceremony will be speaker Stivenson Jean-Baptiste and tassel turner Emma Fleming. Jean-Baptiste, a native of Haiti, studies Business Management at Parkland. He has served as a Parkland Student Government senator, is founder and president of the student-led Business Club, and is president of the International Student Association. Fleming, a Paxton, Illinois, native, studies English literature. She graduated from Judah Christian School before starting at Parkland in 2018. At Parkland, she has been a member of the Programming Board, the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and the International Student Association. She was also a reporter and editor for the Prospectus, a worker for the Center for Academic Success, and vice president for Parkland Student Government. She plans to pursue anthropology at the University of Illinois in the fall.

The ceremony will also feature music selections by the Parkland College Wind Ensemble and an invocation and benediction by the Rev. Angel Sierra of Forty Martyrs Catholic Church in Tuscola.

Dr. Ramage Announces CARES Act Program for Parkland Students

$1.64 million to eligible students in emergency aid

Please read President Ramage’s message to the Parkland College community regarding the CARES Act.
Dear Parkland College Community,

You may have heard of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed on March 27 to provide comprehensive aid to our nation in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. You may have also wondered how this aid package will support Parkland and Parkland students, and I am pleased to provide an update to you today on how these funds will support our campus community.

As of April 21, the government has established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which allows institutions of higher education the ability to provide emergency grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to novel coronavirus.

This fund provides more than $14 billion in emergency funding to higher education. Of those funds, more than $6 billion must go directly to students in the form of emergency grants with no impact to their other financial aid and no requirement to pay back these funds. Institutions must pay HEERF-student share emergency grants directly to students and may not apply the grants toward outstanding institutional charges.

Parkland’s share of this aid package is $3.2 million, with $1.64 million specifically designated for direct payments to eligible students and the remainder helping the institution cover financial losses associated with the crisis. We are pleased to be able to provide some financial relief in times as uncertain as these. For many of us, this crisis has affected multiple facets of our lives. But Parkland is determined to bring our students through this, in every way we can. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure our students have the opportunity to complete or continue their schooling.

Although our goal is to provide opportunities for students of all types, the guidelines surrounding eligibility from the government will limit which students may receive funding under the CARES Act Program for Parkland Students.

Eligible students will receive an email detailing next steps about applying for these CARES Act grants. For more information on eligibility, the CARES Act, and HEERF, please see the Department of Education site or their FAQ.

Stay safe and be well,

Thomas R. Ramage
President, Parkland College

Candidates for Commencement Announced

More than 925 degrees, certificates to be conferred

Parkland College announces the candidates for the college's 53rd Commencement Exercises. View the full list of candidates here; students are listed by hometown.

Due to the novel coronavirus​ outbreak, this year's graduation ​ceremony will be held virtually on Friday, May 22, 2020, at 7 p.m. via YouTube. ​Details regarding the virtual commencement, including the link to access it, will be announced at a later date.

Parkland to Hold Virtual Commencement, May 22

Participating graduates to receive "Cobra Kit" with diploma

Parkland College will hold its first-ever Virtual Commencement Exercises Friday, May 22, to recognize its spring 2020 graduates.

The virtual ceremony will take place at 7 p.m., Parkland President Thomas Ramage announced today. Community members are invited to tune in to the event via YouTube, where they also will have the opportunity to cheer on graduates via social media and in the live chat.

"Commencement is an important tradition and a capstone of the academic year, where we honor our students' accomplishments," Ramage said. "So rather than canceling this milestone event in our students’ lives, we’re happy for the opportunity to celebrate with all our graduates virtually."

Parkland's virtual ceremony will feature many aspects of its traditional commencement, including speakers, awards presentations, and the reading of the graduates' names.

Students who desire to be included in the virtual ceremony must respond by May 1 to a forthcoming email from Student Services Vice President Michael Trame. His email will contain instructions for uploading graduate photos and information. Participating graduates will receive a "Cobra Commencement Kit" that will be mailed with their diplomas. The kit will include a copy of the commencement program, mortar board, tassel, padded diploma cover, and a Cobras school spirit token.

Ramage also invited Parkland's 2020 graduates to participate in the school's 2021 Commencement Exercises, scheduled for May 13 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. He said information on next year's ceremony will be forwarded at a later date.

Parkland College suspended its traditional May commencement last month due to the Illinois stay-at-home order and the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

President Ramage Responds to Illinois Stay-at-Home Order

Read the latest COVID-19 update here.

Please read Parkland College's announcement to the Parkland community in response to Governor Pritzker's order today for Illinoisans to stay at home. 

Dear Parkland Community: 

I am writing with another critical update that will further impact our community and campus. This afternoon, Governor Pritzker issued an executive order for residents of Illinois to shelter in place starting tomorrow, Saturday, March 21, 2020, at 5 p.m. for the next two weeks. Residents will still be allowed to go to the grocery store, gas stations, pharmacies, and outside for a walk. But your ability to access campus will be closed off significantly. 

What this means, is that only essential personnel will be allowed to come to campus for that duration. "Essential" personnel in this case means our public safety officers and a very small group of individuals critical to keep the operations of the college running. Anyone authorized to come to campus should utilize the U3 door, near the Student Union patio. 

Employees, you will be contacted directly by your supervisor if your role is part of this small essential group. Please come prior to tomorrow at 5 p.m. to gather any items you may need for what will likely be many weeks of working remotely.

Students, this means the remaining services we were providing on campus will be shifted entirely online. Students you will receive a follow up from Vice President Michael Trame with more information on how to access student services. Your success remains our absolute priority. 

I want to reiterate that the college remains open for operation in an online format and that our call center remains open during regular business hours, available at 217/351-2200. Updates will continue to be available on the college's social media channels and website,

While we won't be physically together on campus, we will remain connected through the spirit of Parkland and our mission. We will continue to keep you informed as this situation evolves and wish you continued health and peace as we weather this storm. 

Be safe, be smart, be well. 

Thomas R. Ramage
President, Parkland College