Spring 2021 commencement

The University of Missouri–St. Louis is expected to confer 1,379 degrees to students in the spring semester and 448 more in August. (Photos by August Jennewein)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis will celebrate more than 1,800 spring and summer graduates during commencement ceremonies held virtually on May 15.

The university is expected to confer 1,379 degrees to students in the spring semester with 448 students expected to graduate in August.

“I could not be happier to share in this time of celebration with all of our wonderful graduates,” Chancellor Kristin Sobolik said. “They should be filled with pride for everything they have worked for and overcome during this extraordinary time. Their achievements provide a strong foundation for future success, and we all look forward to witnessing the impact they make in their careers, in their communities and throughout the world.”

The decision to hold commencement ceremonies in a virtual format again this spring was made with consideration of St. Louis County public health guidelines limiting the size of gatherings.

Each college will have streaming broadcasts featuring speeches, the conferral of degrees and the presentation of UMSL’s 2021 graduates with individual, on-screen recognition – including an information slide with their name and photograph – for each participating graduate.

Darrion Cockrell

Alumnus Darrion Cockrell, the 2021 Missouri Teacher of the Year, will be the featured speaker during commencement ceremonies on May 15.

A recorded keynote address by Darrion Cockrell, the 2021 Missouri Teacher of the Year, will be incorporated into each ceremony.

Cockrell’s inspirational story drew national attention last fall when the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education honored him.

His mother suffered from addiction when he was very young, and his father was killed when he was 4 years old. He spent much of his childhood changing homes as part of the foster care system.

Cockrell credits his teachers who helped guide him through those early challenges. In seventh grade, his middle school football coach, Dennis Kaeser, and Kaeser’s wife began fostering him, and he lived with the couple throughout high school at Parkway Central.

He went on to play football at Millikin University before transferring to UMSL, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in education and interdisciplinary studies in 2013.

Cockrell today teaches at Crestwood Elementary School, where he is affectionately known as “Mr. DC.” He has forged strong bonds with students, staff and parents while overhauling the school’s fitness program.

Cockrell will share lessons from his experience with this year’s graduates.

The schedule for the May 15 ceremonies is as follows:

  • College of Arts and Sciences: 9 a.m.
  • College of Education/SUCCEED: 11 a.m.
  • College of Business Administration: 1 p.m.
  • College of Optometry: 2 p.m.
  • College of Nursing: 3 p.m.
  • UMSL/Washington University Joint Engineering Program: 5 p.m.
  • School of Social Work: 5 p.m.
Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik