The Adams State University 2024 Spring Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 11, in Plachy Hall. Colorado Department of Higher Education Chief Educational Equity Officer Gillian McKnight-Tutein, Ed.D., is the commencement speaker.

Dr. McKnight-Tutein plans to provoke thoughts for this year’s graduating class and for all who supported these students on their journey. “There is benefit and burden in achieving any goal. Both are necessary to thrive.”

Her commencement address plans to invigorate a sense of purpose about how the graduates might choose to traverse the next steps on their journey. “Breaking barriers means making decisions with good information, surrounding yourself with the right people, and creating a legacy with your own vibe.”

Dr. Gillian McKnight-Tutein
Dr. Gillian McKnight-Tutein

Dr. McKnight-Tutein’s goal as the chief educational equity officer at the Colorado Department of Higher Education is to act as an advocate for educational equity initiatives and systemic change at all of Colorado’s institutions of higher education (IHE’s) that result in better experiences and outcomes for historically underrepresented and marginalized students from all backgrounds and experiences.

An award-winning educator, Dr. McKnight-Tutein has served in executive roles in academic and student affairs at Colorado Mesa University, Community College of Denver, and Front Range Community College. In over 18 years in higher education, she has focused her equity work in the areas of access, closing attainment gaps, concurrent enrollment, assessment, instructional design, curriculum, and funding. Dr. McKnight-Tutein received the 2022 Bernice Joseph Leadership Award developed by Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s (WICHE). In 2023, she was chosen as one of the Top 50 Women Leaders of Colorado and was chosen as an Aspen Rising Presidents Fellow.

First-generation student from Monte Vista, Colo., Jovanna Arroyo will convey the message from the Adams State Class of 2024. A sociology major, Arroyo is an active member of the International Sociology Honors Society. She served on the Associated Student and Faculty including as vice president of finance. She appreciates the support from faculty and staff for always encouraging her and believing in her abilities.

During the spring undergraduate commencement ceremony, Adams State will award 258 undergraduate degrees including 125 Associates; 56 Bachelor of Arts; 72 Bachelor of Science; and 5 Bachelor of Fine Arts. Duane Bussey will deliver a greeting from the Board of Trustees.

Post-graduate Commencement Ceremony

The Spring Post-graduate Commencement Ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m. Adams State Director of Admissions Kara Gaffney, is the commencement speaker.

Kara Gaffney
Kara Gaffney

Kara Gaffney is a higher education enrollment management leader from Westfield, Massachusetts. She was an associate director of admissions for processing operations at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her previous experience as a secondary educator in College Prep and Life Management skills inspired her to pursue a career and degree in Higher Education Administration and Leadership.

During the spring graduate commencement ceremony, Adams State will award 522 degrees including: 460 MA degrees; 21 MS; 35 MBA; and 6 Doctorate degrees. Mark Manzanares will serve as faculty marshal and Duane Bussey will deliver a greeting from the Board of Trustees.

For those unable to attend in person, the events will be livestreamed.