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Campus News / News

 ROCKFORD, Ill. (May 2, 2024)Rockford University, the region’s leading, private, four-year educational institution, will hold its 170th Commencement on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at the Coronado Performing Arts Center. Commencement exercises begin at 10 a.m. 

The Coronado Performing Arts Center at 314 N. Main St. in Rockford will host the University’s commencement ceremony.

Providing this year’s keynote address to the graduates is Angela Hite-Carter.

Hite-Carter is a retired Illinois State Certified administrator. Hite-Carter’s last role in her career was as Executive Director of Student Services and Alternative Learning at Rockford Public Schools District #205 from January 2012 to 2021, when she retired. As Executive Director, Hite-Carter ensured communication and appropriate execution of support systems for Illinois policies governing public school students and parents.

Tickets are required to attend the commencement ceremonies, and have been limited to degree candidates and their guests. No tickets will be available at the door on May 11.  

Commencement will also be live-streamed here


About Rockford University

Rockford University is a four-year, co-educational institution founded in 1847 offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in traditional liberal arts and professional fields. The University offers approximately 80 majors, minors, and concentrations, including the adult accelerated degree completion program for a B.S. in Management Studies. 

Through its Graduate Studies department, degrees are extended to include the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), and a Master of Education in Urban Education (ME.d). Rockford University is home to one of only 11 Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) chapters in Illinois, the most prestigious honor society in the United States. 

Rockford University is also named by The Princeton Review as a Best Midwestern College. Rockford University currently serves approximately 1,300 full- and part-time students. 

All media must notify the Marketing & Communications Department in advance for planning purposes.


For more information or to RSVP, contact:

Sara Myers

Rockford University Marketing & Communications 



For April 19, 2024

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Rockford University’s Performing Arts department (RUPA), in partnership with the Friends of the Performing Arts, will host “A Celebration of 41 Years of Costume Design,” on April 28 to raise funds for the department’s trip overseas to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Rockford University received one of the seven invitations extended to colleges and universities to perform at the festival.  The department received their first invitation to the festival in 2016.

While traveling abroad, RUPA students will perform on a world stage, representing not only Rockford University, but the City of Rockford, the State of Illinois, and the United States. Please join us in supporting the RUPA students as they embark on this incredible journey.

The Costume Design fashion show will be held Sunday, April 28 from 2 to 5 p.m. in Maddox Theatre in Clark Arts Center on Rockford University’s campus, located at 5050 E. State St. in Rockford.

The fundraising event will highlight the designs of retired RU Professor/Costume Designer Jeff Hendry. Master of Ceremonies Mike Garrigan (Evening Anchor of 23 WIFR) will walk through each design as models from all areas of the community, including the City of Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, State Senator Steve Stadelman, and State Representative Dave Vella, strut their stuff!

The show will also include performances from the Groove Hotel Trio and words of support from State Representative Maurice West.

Tickets are on sale now for $30.00 and may be purchased by visiting

Media are invited to come and attend the show, and shoot b-roll. They may arrive early at 1:30 p.m. to interview university staff involved in the event. 



Please RSVP to Sara Myers at by April 26 at 4 p.m. to confirm your attendance.



Sara Myers

Rockford University Marketing & Communications


For Immediate Release: 

April 18, 2024

STEM Day 2023

Students from Galapagos Charter School and Marshall Middle School will engage in interactive workshops and more with the assistance of RU students. Area High School students and employers will see RU STEM Students’ research posters and interactive demonstrations. 

What: Rockford University, Galapagos Charter School, Marshall Middle School, Local High Schools and STEM Employers 

When: April 26, 2024,

9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: STEM Workshops

1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.: Student Research Symposium, Interactive Demonstrations and BANG! 

Where: Starr Science Center, Rockford University, 5050 E. State St, Rockford, IL, 61108 

Who: Rockford University students, faculty, and staff; Galapagos Charter and Marshall Middle School students; local high school students; university officials, and media

ROCKFORD, Ill. —Rockford University will host students from Galapagos Charter and Marshall Middle Schools in Rockford on Friday, April 26, for STEM Day. The middle school students and 4th graders will be on campus from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Rockford University students will be working with the 4th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders during the different workshops, and RU professors from mathematics, computer science, physics, and chemical & biological sciences will lead the workshops. Visitors will even get a campus tour and lunch on campus to learn more about RU.

Starting at 1:30 p.m., RU STEM students will present their research findings in the afternoon as part of a research symposium and the Alpha Helix Bang! The Chemical Show will be presented at 4:30 p.m. at Starr. Local high school students and local employers are invited to attend.

High school students and employers are asked to RSVP by April 19 to Kari Severson at 

Media are invited to attend both events and speak with the RU faculty who organized the workshops.  


 Questions or interview requests can be sent to We ask the media to RSVP by emailing us by 9 a.m. on Friday, April 26. 


Sara Myers

RU Marketing & Communications


Karen Walker at the YWCA Luncheon by Rock River Current
Dr. Karen Walker accepting her award at YWCA Leader Luncheon XLIV. Photo by Rock River Current.

Rockford University’s Dr. Karen Walker received the Racial Justice Award at the YWCA Leader Luncheon XLIV and 2024 Women of Achievement Awards on Monday, March 4. 

Dr. Walker is the Dean of Student Support Programming, Dean of the Center for Learning Strategies, the Coordinator for the Men of Color Mentorship Program, and the founder of Regents First.

“As the Dean of the Center for Learning Strategies at Rockford University, Dr. Walker launched the Regents First program to support first-generation college students. She consistently aligns these students with local programs and opportunities (such as Patriots Gateway and United Way) to support them and their community with their talent and skills,” said the YWCA.

“One of her favorite quotes is ‘Literacy is the tool we use as humans to find one another, so it must belong to everyone,’ from author Pam Allyn.

Believing this strongly, Dr. Walker also works with the United for Literacy movement to ensure any child, regardless of race, can read to succeed.” 

Karen Walker accepted her award at the YWCA Leader LuncheonKaren Walker poses with her award along with friends

By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist  

Anisha Grimmett headshot

Rockford native and local business owner Anisha Grimmett is very involved in the community and has become a key player in the city through the connections she has made. She sits on many boards including Keith Country Day School (where her children attend) and Rockford University’s Board.

Grimmett was asked by former President Eric Fulcomer to be on the board in 2020. She knows RU well, as it is both her brother’s and her mother’s alma mater. Her brother graduated from RU with a Business degree, and her mother graduated with a master’s in teaching degree. 

 Grimmett grew up in the Rockford area and went to Auburn High School.  

Years before her brother’s college journey, Grimmett decided to leave home and attend the University of Illinois in Champaign. She discovered more about herself that first year and began finding her independence. However, Grimmett quickly discovered Champaign was much too big of a campus for her. She transferred to Devry University in Chicago, Illinois, and finished her bachelor’s degree in engineering there. 

 Grimmett discovered her love for “figuring out how things worked” early on. 

“I was always the one taking things apart looking at the insides of things and putting things together,” she said. “Don’t give me instructions, I’ll figure it out.” It was her uncle who told her that she should be an engineer because engineers do exactly that. 

Before even attending college for engineering, Grimmett had a prestigious internship lined up at home. She received an internship at what was then called Sunstrand (now called Collins Aerospace). 

After a few summers interning “They hired me because I was going to be moving back to Rockford and driving into Chicago for school, so I was part-time,” she said. “They paid for my college, and it was a huge blessing. I would go to school in the morning and then come straight to work and work into the evenings sometimes.”

 After graduating college at Devry, Grimmett came back to Rockford where she worked at Sundstrand. There, she met her husband, they got married and had 2 kids. 

 “I was the person that wanted to leave Rockford and never come back but all the great opportunities that Rockford had for me,” she said. “It was hard to leave that. I had a job that paid well, and this was in 1997. I’m an intern making 18 bucks an hour. I was learning so much and being able to apply what I had learned in the classroom to work and vice versa.”

 Grimmett worked at Sundstrand for over 20 years. 

 During her time at the engineering giant, she had multiple opportunities. She worked in different departments like components, systems engineering, test labs, customer service, cost account management, project management, and international trade compliance. At one point in time, Grimmett was an engineering manager. 

 Around 2011, Grimmett’s husband’s position took their family to China for 3 years. Grimmett brought her two kids, their cat and dog, and all their furniture overseas. 

“That was the best experience of my life,” she said. “Especially in terms of discovering who I was as an adult and a mom and wife. I had the opportunity to stay at home with the kids, which was a true blessing. My kids went to an international school. We learned Chinese and met people from Sweden, Australia, France, Canada, Korea, Japan, Germany and South Africa. So many families were there, and we were exposed to many more cultures. Our potlucks together would just be amazing.”

 Grimmett also learned a lot more about fashion and style during her time in China. She noticed how different those in China dressed than in the U.S. She described the style as more “fashion forward, eclectic and unique.” 

 “To me, it’s the look of luxury without having a lot of money,” she said. “That is a skill in itself. It was just heaven to me to explore and create and to use the landscape and different cultures to hone in my vibe and style. And then bringing all that back here (to America).”

Grimmett came back to UTC Aerospace (now called Collins Aerospace). When she returned, her title was Executive Assistant to the President. In this position, Grimmett had a hand in UTC’s operations, marketing, human resources, talent development, and more. 

 It was in this position that she realized how much she loved working with people. 

After 20-plus years at Sundstrand, Grimmett went on to work with the Education nonprofit Alignment Rockford. 

“There are so many levels of decision-making and politics here,” she said. “I learned a lot and met a lot of great people who are now my clients today and created another level platform of public speaking.”

Grimmett added that the position helped her rediscover her passion for fashion and helping people. She had colleagues come up to her, compliment her fashion, and say how they wished they had Grimmett to go shopping for them. 

After doing some research into how to become a personal stylist, she found a personal stylist based in Los Angeles who became her mentor. Grimmett officially started her style business, “CEO of A New Look by Nisha,” in January 2022. 

Most of her clients currently are referrals and connections she has made through her network throughout the years. When working at Alignment Rockford, her network expanded and she’s been able to grow her clientele through the connections she’s made. 

 Grimmett is now working on creating a social media presence for her business to help her attract more clients in the future. 

“When I’m working with clients, it’s more of style therapy, even when going through their closets,” she said. “Because they discover things about themselves they never would have known. (For example) a client said I didn’t think I bought oversized clothes. That was 90% of my closet because I was too busy wanting to hide myself. It’s hard to achieve greatness when you’re hiding. So the problem statement is, how can I now make myself more visible so I can achieve the greatness I want?”

 If you’re interested in Grimmett’s style coaching business, you can reach out to her at 


Addams Thread 2023

WHEN: Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 at 4 p.m.

WHERE: Maddox Theatre in Clark Arts Center at Rockford University. Rockford University is located at 5050 E. State St. in Rockford, Illinois.

WHAT: Rockford University will hold its annual Charter Day Convocation Ceremony this February 26, 2024. The ceremony will include a theatrical performance of the “The Addams Thread.” This play was written and directed by Rockford University Performing Arts Professor Deborah Mogford. The play was originally first performed on Oct. 13, 2023. The play centers around renowned alumnus Jane Adams and her college classmates whom she called, “The Glorious Seventeen.” 

WHO: The ceremony will also include remarks from President Patricia Lynott, Provost Elizabeth Davies, Board of Trustees Chair Rebecca Epperson, and VP for Advancement Linda Sandquist. 

Media interested in attending the event should RSVP to or no later than 3 p.m. on Feb. 26. 



Sara Myers

Rockford University Marketing & Communications 


By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist 

Black History Month exhibit created by RU student Rudy Vazquez

As part of his internship at Midway Village Museum, Rockford University student Rudy Vazquez recently helped put together an exhibit just in time for Black History Month called “Breaking Barriers: the 1950s Strike for Equality in Rockford.”

Vazquez’s internship started in September 2023, and his main task was doing research through the newspaper database at the museum.

The exhibit is about an incident in the early 1950s in Rockford. An African-American worker, Charles Wortham, was involved in a racial incident and about 600 workers walked out with the employee at the business Gunite in 1957, Vazquez said.

Employees who walked out also signed a paper with their support for Wortham. One issue at the time was that many of the newspapers that covered the story did not tell the whole truth and were owned by White men. Vazquez was able to find a Black-owned newspaper called The Rockford Crusader that told this story of solidarity between the man and his employees who walked out with him.

The exhibit in the museum is on four large panels. It shows the different elements of the story and who was involved in this walkout through photos and newspaper clippings, he said.

Vazquez will be working on another exhibit for the museum next month for Women’s History Month which will feature RU Alum Julia Lathrop and more. His internship at the museum will end in early March. 

The Black History Month exhibit at the museum was featured on on Feb. 1

Vazquez is very involved on campus here at RU. He is the V.P. of the Rockford Chapter of PSI CHI, and is team captain of the Esports team Rainbow 6 Siege. He will be graduating this May with a B.S. in Psychology, a B.S. in Criminal Justice, and a B.A. in History with a minor in Ancient and Medieval Studies and a minor in Religious Studies. 

He plans to continue his studies further upon graduation and will study Religion in graduate school. 

Rudy Vazquez headshot

RU Student Angelica Ramos Ortiz art that won Burpee Mural Project

Rockford, IL – February 14, 2024 – Rockford University is excited to announce the launch of the Burpee Mural Project. This project invited all Rockford University Studio Art majors and minors to showcase their creativity and talent by submitting a design of a mural for the central location of the Burpee Center. 

The idea for the project came from Rockford University President, Patricia Lynott. The competition offered a grand prize of $1,000, sponsored by Lynott herself. Additionally, Lynott, along with Rockford University Board Chair Rebecca Epperson and Board Trustee Joel Moore, have pledged $100 each to recognize the efforts of the other five students participating in the contest. 

The theme of the mural, “Rockford University Past, Present, & Future,” challenged participants to encapsulate the institution’s rich history, vibrant present, and promising future in their designs. From the origins of Rockford Female Seminary to the aspirations for the years ahead, the mural aims to inspire the entire Rockford University community. 

“The quality and thought process each student brought to their designs were incredible,” said Rebecca Epperson, Chair, of Rockford University Board of Trustees. “It was an honor to participate as a juror in this competition. Based on the designs created, the Studio Arts students at Rockford University have very bright futures ahead.” 

Rockford University Trustee, Joel Moore added “I’m so grateful these talented students took the time to share their impressive work.  We’re excited to present their Art for everyone to appreciate and enjoy.” 

Each student was required to present their design to the jury, consisting of President Lynott, two members of the Board of Trustees, and two faculty members from the Department of Art and Art History. The presentations coincided with the Rockford University Board of Trustees meeting held on February 9th and 10th. The winning entry was created by student Angelica Ramos Ortiz. Ortiz’s submission depicts the theme in a well-captured and exciting way.  

“We’re thrilled to see the creativity and passion our students brought to this project,” said Langworthy, organizer and facilitator of the competition and Dean of the College of Arts & Humanities at Rockford University. “This mural will not only beautify the Burpee Center but also serve as a source of inspiration for generations to come.” 

 In addition to the prize money, the costs of supplies for the mural will also be covered. 

Rockford University looks forward to witnessing the artistic endeavors of its talented students and the lasting impact of the Burpee Mural Project.



Rockford University Marketing & Communications


An Update on FAFSA

02/05/2024 2:33 pm

The financial aid journey for students like you – those looking to enroll in college in Fall 2024 – has been one of the most unusual in recent memory.  Changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process have introduced considerable delays and technical glitches.

Earlier this week, we learned of new delays. The U.S. Department of Education announced they are delaying the release of FAFSA information to schools until mid-March. This additional delay is due to necessary updates to the FAFSA formula that will recognize important inflationary adjustments needed for FAFSA applicant financial data. The correction will result in more students getting aid, but it will take time to fix the Student Aid Index (SAI) formula. The Department of Education is committed to ensuring students and their families receive all the aid they are entitled to receive.

The Office of Student Administrative Services at Rockford University will work on getting financial aid offers to families as quickly as possible once FAFSA information is made available to schools. 

What does this mean for you?

  • If you’ve already completed the 2024-2025 FAFSA- great! FAFSA information will be shared with schools starting mid-March 2024.
  • If you haven’t applied- it’s not too late! Applying early allows you the best opportunity to be considered for the most types of financial aid possible. Rockford University’s school code is 001748.

What are some steps you can take in the meantime?

  • Let us know when you filed the FAFSA (it will let us get a jump start on your financial aid offer when the FAFSAs start arriving)
  • Use our Student Calculator at This will allow you to estimate what financial aid you may qualify for, and therefore what you and your family may be responsible for, out of pocket.
  • Stay Connected! Your Admissions counselor is here to help, every step of the way! Got questions? Just ask! If you would like to schedule another campus visit please reach out. We would love to host you!

Rockford University understands that the cost of education is a significant consideration for students and their families. We know this delay is frustrating in your decision-making process. If you have any questions please contact your admission counselor.

By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist

Learning about an institution’s history often requires research. To make Rockford University’s history more engaging without reading a book or two, RU’s Performing Arts professor Deborah Mogford decided to produce a dramatization on its most famous class, just in time for one of the University’s busiest weekends. 

During homecoming weekend, Oct. 13, 2023, Rockford University’s Performing Arts department performed Mogford’s production, “The Addams Thread,” focusing on the university’s most well-known classes.

“It’s lovely to read a novel, I’m a big reader, but people remember stories they see visually,” Mogford said. “That’s the beauty of drama.”

Mogford wrote and directed the play as a dedication to the “Glorious Seventeen,” the seventeen women who graduated from Rockford Female Seminary in 1881, which includes notable Alumni Jane Addams, a Nobel Peace Prize Winner and the founder of Chicago’s Hull House. Mogford added that she also dedicates this play to all RU alumni. 

“Graduates of this university can attest to RU’s dedication to advancing knowledge for the students while fostering life-long intellectual curiosity,” Mogford said in the director’s note in the production’s program. “They can also speak to the school’s commitment to instilling in the student population a desire to seek a life of purpose, service, and leadership to the community they choose to inhabit.”

To create this production, Mogford said she researched Jane Addams’s valedictorian speech where she discovered Addams’s nickname for her graduating class. This led Mogford to create a show that touched on how the “Glorious Seventeen” were always bonded and how Jane attending Rockford had the impact it did.

“I got to thinking that’s lovely and it’s 1893, four lovely women, all white,” Mogford said. “The school doesn’t look like that anymore. So, what is that legacy, and how does it look in 2023? So, I thought, I’ll then jump ahead 100 years.”

The play is split into two scenes at different times and places.

Scene I is set in the summertime in 1893 at Rockford College alumna Mrs. Jonathan McKnight or Aunt Katherine’s house. There, Aunt Katherine is joined by her niece Arabella Amato, her niece’s friend Cora Edwards, and her good friend and classmate from Rockford, Martha Gail. The scene is placed 12 years after graduation and four years after the Addams formed Hull House. 

The second scene is set in the Spring of 2023 at Maddox Theatre, where five students are talking about going for a coffee run together when they run into a potential RU student.

“I want to be able to have this piece ready to go at any time,” Mogford said. “So, as students graduate then that part goes to someone else. It’s a piece that’s always ready to go whenever the school needs it for recruitment or historical reference.”

After taking the summer of 2023 to write the play, Mogford was ready in August for prep. Mogford put together the cast and crew and held a complete read-through of the production. She would meet periodically with the groups from both scenes. She added that the cast would rehearse on and off but the final push came 10 days before the show went on. 

“I hope they bring it back for Charter Day or orientation,” she said. “And, when we have groups on campus who are looking at the school we can also do it then if we have plenty of notice.”



Performed Oct. 13, 2023 

Written and Directed by Deborah Mogford

Lighting Designer: Eric Brockmeier

Costume Designer: Ryan Moller

Stage Manager: Jeremy Rogers

Technical Director: Beth Drog



TIME: Mid-June on a perfect summer afternoon, 1883

Place: The lush garden of Aunt Catherine’s House on Harlem Blvd. in Rockford, IL


CAST, in order of appearance

Martha Gail: Aubry Musfelt

Arabella (Bella) Amato: Lindsay Johnson

Aunt Catherine (Mrs. Jonathan McKnight): Emmarie Wilson

Cora Edwards (Mrs. George Edwards): Lucy Parlapiano



TIME: Late April on a perfect spring day, 2023

Place: Maddox Theatre


CAST, in order of appearance

Marie: Adara Barrera Medina

Jake: Robbie Strader

James: Carter Coryell

Allison: Keira Alejandro

Samantha: Kaleigh Ferguson

Will: Elijah Lowry