College plans outdoor commencement ceremony

September 7, 2021

Jackson College graduates from 2020 and 2021 will have the opportunity to walk across the stage in cap and gown at a special outdoors commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11.

When the pandemic hit and all learning moved online in 2020, Jackson College administrators put the commencement ceremony on hold. An online commencement recognition was created. Now, with students back on campus, Jackson College will host an in-person ceremony for graduates, located on the “terrace” on the north end of Bert Walker Hall, rather than inside the Potter Center. Over 1,600 students completed their certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree over these two years.

“We want to allow our students from the graduating class of 2020 and 2021 to have the experience of crossing a stage, being recognized in front of their family and friends on the accomplishment of such a major goal in their educational journey ,” said Chief Legal, Talent, Equity & Administrative Officer Cindy Allen.

Graduates have received four tickets each for friends and family, who will be seated in the Bert Walker Hall parking lot with ample space for social distancing. All attendees must complete an online health screening and go through the College’s checkpoint upon arrival on Central Campus.


At the commencement ceremony, Jackson College will recognize distinguished alumni and service awardees for both 2020 and 2021.

2020 Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Alumni Award, Woodrow Wilson Jr. ’67

After graduating from Jackson Community College and Olivet College, Wilson taught at Starr Commonwealth for a few years before returning to JCC in 1972. Over his nearly 40 years at the College, he served in a variety of roles, finishing his career as a teaching faculty member before retirement in 2011. His impact continues with the support of the Woodrow Wilson Multicultural Center in Bert Walker Hall, as well as a scholarship in his name from the Jackson College Foundation. In 2012, he received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Service Award from JC.

2020 Distinguished Service Awards, Evelyne Jones and Dr. Albert Krieger

Evelyne Jones is the matriarch of the Jones family, owners and operators of Dawn Food Products in Jackson since the 1950s. While she helped her husband, Marlin, early on when he purchased the company, she then became busy as a homemaker raising their family. With a love for music, she taught her children about music, with each learning to sing and play an instrument. Believing that it’s important to help one’s community, she established the Evelyne Jones Vocal Music Scholarship at Jackson College.

Dr. Albert Krieger taught at Jackson College for 33 years, from 1968 to 2001, instructing students in a variety of chemistry classes, serving committees and college groups and professional societies. He was chair of the Chemistry Department for many years and enjoyed the opportunity teaching offered to help students make something of themselves. His influence continues today with a scholarship he established with his wife, the Albert and Margaret Krieger Scholarship, available from the Jackson College Foundation.

2021 Dr. Ethelene Jones Crockett Distinguished Service Award, Charles Birney ‘54

Charles Birney is a graduate of Jackson High School and Jackson Junior College, then continued his educational journey at the University of Colorado (Boulder). He also served in the U.S. Army. Upon returning to Jackson, he worked for the Republican Party until accepting a position with the City of Flint. Following a successful career as the information technology department leader, he retired from the City of Flint. With his love for the arts, his support was instrumental in the renovation of the Potter Center main lobby, now the Charles Birney and Helen Murphy Grand Mezzanine.

2021 Distinguished Service Award, Greg O’Connor ’74

Jackson WKHM Radio personality Greg O’Connor began broadcasting games in the late 1960s with his father, Tom. He graduated from Parkside High School and Jackson Community College, then attended Eastern Michigan University and Michigan State University. He spent five years at WCBY Radio in Cheboygan before returning to Jackson in 1983, joining WKHM. He has won multiple awards for excellence for news and sports reporting and has interviewed individuals from all walks of life. In 2010, he and his father received the Jackson Citizen Patriot’s Al Cotton Award.

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