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Distinguished alumni to address UW-Stevens Point graduates

For the Metro Wire

A Distinguished Alumni Award winner will address University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduates and their families at the spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 18.

Dale Klapmeier, co-founder and chief executive officer of Cirrus Aircraft and a 1983 graduate of UW-Stevens Point, will speak to more than 1,250 graduates who will earn associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the UW-Stevens Point Multi-Activity Center in Marshfield Clinic Health System Champions Hall (formerly the Health Enhancement Center).

The student speaker at 9:30 a.m. will be Rachel Zach, a biology major from Stevens Point. Welcoming the new alumni will be Brandon and Jillian Gottsacker, both 2011 graduates from Hixton, Wis.

The 2 p.m. student speaker will be Erica Baker, communications-media studies major from Escanaba, Mich. Susan Higgins Blotz and Timothy Blotz, both 1985 graduates from Chanhassen, Minn., will welcome the new alumni.

Graduating seniors Debora Barr, a vocal performance major from McFarland, Wis., and Faith Hatch, a jazz studies major from Lodi, Wis., will sing the national anthem and UW-Stevens Point’s alma mater in the two ceremonies. Accompanying them will be the UW-Stevens Point Orchestra, directed by Andy Moran, assistant professor of music.

Guests may park in any campus lot for free except Lot F West, which will be used for handicap access.

Klapmeier founded his aircraft company with his brother, Alan, in 1984 in a barn on their parents’ farm near Baraboo. Cirrus Aircraft has revolutionized the general aviation industry with the use of composite materials, fully integrated-glass panel cockpits and whole-airframe ballistic parachute systems that have saved more than 170 lives. The company has facilities in Duluth, Minn., Grand Forks, N.D. and Knoxville, Tenn.

Klapmeier and his brother were inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2014 and together were ranked the 17th most influential figures in aviation history by Flying Magazine. Dale is a member of the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame.

Klapmeier is active with several professional aviation organizations, including the EAA Young Eagles Program, Red Tail Project, NASA’s Aeronautics Research and Technology Roundtable and the nonprofit charity Angel Flight West.