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Lakeland College will have a lot to celebrate during the college's 150th graduation on Sunday, May 6.
The college will award diplomas to 891 graduates, including 603 undergraduates and 288 graduate students.
The undergraduate group includes 230 students graduating from Lakeland's main campus program and 373 students graduating from Lakeland's Kellett School of Adult Education, which includes seven centers around Wisconsin and the college's online program.
The day will include a number of special features:
It will be the final commencement for Lakeland President Stephen Gould, who is retiring at the end of May. Gould came to Lakeland in 1970 as a German instructor, and served the college for 42 years in numerous administration roles before being named Lakeland's 14th president in 1998.
Gould led the early growth of Lakeland's adult education program and its Japan campus. During his 14 years as president, the college reached 4,000 students for the first time, its endowment fund has more than tripled and the main campus has seen more than $20 million in construction and upgrades including three new residence halls and the Laun Center for Business and Technology.
"There are no individual accomplishments in presidencies; they're the work of many hands," Gould said. "My fate has always been in the institution itself and the people here. I think we have a terrific staff right now, and I'd put this faculty up against any small college faculty in the country.
"I found in Lakeland's mission a purpose for my life and a certain amount of meaning. I found it especially purposeful to be involved in the lives of those students, whether they were traditional age or found their stride a lot later in life. That's given me a sense of meaning for the things that I do."
The college will kick off its 150th anniversary celebration during the graduation ceremony. For more than three years, a group of college employees and alumni have been planning a number of special events to mark the milestone, highlighted by an All-College Reunion set for June 21-24.
Lakeland was founded in 1862 by German immigrants. The college was known for more than 90 years as Mission House and initially served as a seminary to train ministers for what would later become the United Church of Christ and an academy that evolved into a liberal arts college. The seminary and college split in 1956 and Mission House was renamed Lakeland College.
Jeff Skiles, a member of the cockpit crew who helped successfully land the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight will deliver Lakeland's commencement address.
Skiles, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Madison resident, was one of two cockpit crewmembers, along with Sully Sullenberger, of USAirways 1549 which landed on the Hudson River in January of 2009.
For the past 26 years Skiles has worked as both first officer and captain for U.S. Airways. He holds an Airline Transport Pilots license and is qualified as a captain on five different transport category aircraft. He also writes a monthly column and feature articles for "Sport Aviation" and is a contributing editor for that publication.