Local event curator and publisher Seth Fein will deliver the keynote address during Parkland College's 2019 Commencement Exercises, Thursday, May 16, at 8 p.m. at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana. Watch the ceremony live.
Fein is founder and producer of the area's annual multidisciplinary event called PYGMALION, celebrating its 15th year in 2019. He is co-creator and publisher of Smile Politely, an online magazine devoted to the culture of life in the sister cities, published since 2007. Additionally, since founding The Nicodemus Agency in 2002, he has represented more than 65 artists, booked hundreds of North American tours and has presented nearly 1,500 concerts locally featuring over 5,000 performers. Starting this year, Fein will co-chair the newly formed Foundation for Innovation in the Performing Arts (FIPA), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding and perpetuating live performing arts and more in Champaign County.
Raised in Urbana, Fein attended public school his entire academic career. After transferring from Parkland College to the University of Illinois in 2000, he graduated with his BA in Rhetoric in 2002. He lives in Champaign with his wife, Justine Bursoni, and their two sons, Ellis and Ira.
Other honored guests at commencement will include agriculturalist, education leader and former Parkland College Trustee Linden Warfel, who will receive an honorary associate's degree, and celebrated Yahoo Sports Analyst Brad Evans, who will be honored with the college's Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Warfel was educated in Unit 7 Schools, at Wabash College in Indiana, and at the University of Illinois, majoring in agricultural economics. After college, he served six years in the U.S. Air Force as an aeromedical evacuation specialist, attaining the rank of staff sergeant. He served on the Unit 7 Board of Education for 10 years, two of them as chair, and co-founded Community Christian School in Urbana, which eventually became Judah Christian School in Champaign.
Elected to the Parkland College Board of Trustees in 1991, Warfel guided the college for 24 years, holding the roles of board secretary, vice president, and president. He helped Parkland expand its enrollment and facilities during this time. A lifetime and award-winning member of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, he also served on the Illinois Community College Board's Financial Advisory, Formula Change Advisory, and Leadership and Core Values committees. Today, he serves on the Governor's Pre-school through University Advisory Council.
Warfel was chosen by the News-Gazette as the Farm Leader of the Year for 1989 and as one of its "Seventy Over 70" honorees for 2019. He has worked with the Champaign County Farm Bureau and the Illinois Farm Bureau since 1968, supplying governance for both. For 18 years, he served as commissioner for the Two Mile Slough, a southwest Champaign County drainage district covering 33,000 acres. His community service also includes membership with the Tolono Village Board, the Tolono Lion's Club, and since 1979, the Champaign Rotary. He is currently an active member of Stratford Park Bible Chapel in Champaign.
Evans is a resident fantasy football, NFL Draft, college basketball, and betting analyst for Yahoo Sports, a regularly featured analyst on the Emmy-nominated "Yahoo's Fantasy Football Live." He has won more individual Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards than any analyst in the industry, including Football Writer of the Year Awards in 2012 and 2015 and five College Sports Writer of the Year Awards between 2009 and 2014. He was inducted into the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2018. Evans has provided his expertise on numerous national network and syndicated sports shows and is creator and co-host of "The Fantasy Football Hour" on Altitude TV, which earned "Best Video" nominations in its first three seasons and has aired in over 90 million households nationwide.
After attending Parkland College from 1996 to 1999, Evans earned his BA in History from the University of Illinois and his Masters in Geological and Earth Sciences from Mississippi State University. Prior to becoming a sports columnist and personality, he taught social studies, weather, psychology, and health classes for six years at the READY program in Champaign, Ill., an alternative school for high school students.
Parkland's 52nd commencement also will feature remarks from college President Thomas Ramage and Board of Trustees Chair Gregory J. Knott. Graduating-student presenters will include graduating student student speaker Mackenzie Smith, a Parkland honor student and a member of Parkland's Phi Theta Kappa international honor society chapter, and tassel turner William K. Taylor, 72, a Parkland honor student. The Mahomet resident retired from the WDWS-AM sales staff in 2011 after a 41-year career.
Rev. Dr. Mark Jordan of New Horizon United Methodist Church in Champaign will provide the invocation/benediction, and the Parkland College Wind Ensemble will perform several selections. A reception will be held in the Krannert Center lobby after the recessional. Tickets are required.
[Image: Seth Fein by Justine Bursoni Photography]