Millikin University to honor Class of 2023 at Spring Commencement May 21 

Two graduation celebrations will honor nearly 340 graduates


DECATUR, Ill. – Nearly 340 Millikin University graduates from the Class of 2023 will be honored at Spring Commencement on Sunday, May 21, at Kirkland Fine Arts Center on Millikin's campus. Two commencement ceremonies will be held to recognize graduates from undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 

Graduating students will be allowed up to seven guests at the ceremony. Millikin community members unable to attend the ceremony in person will be able to watch the ceremony through a public live stream on Millikin's flagship Facebook page and the Commencement site.

Millikin graduates in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Professional Studies will participate in the first ceremony on May 21 at 10 a.m. Doors will open at 9 a.m.

Jarius Ingram
Jarius Ingram

The morning ceremony will feature student speaker Jarius Ingram, of Decatur, Ill., who is graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Arts & Sciences with a major in Biology Pre-Medicine. Jarius’ speech is titled “Big and Blue.”  

During his four years at Millikin, Ingram has been heavily involved as a student leader. He is both a Long-Vanderburg and a Presidential Scholar and took advantage of Millikin’s customizable experience by wearing many hats across campus departments. He has presided over multiple national academic honor society chapters, was a teacher assistant and founded Millikin’s Aspiring Healthcare Professionals student organization. In Athletics, Jarius played on the Millikin Men’s Basketball team, was named a Merle Chapman Leadership Award winner, mentored at youth sports camps, earned multiple academic all-conference selections and was president of Millikin’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  

Graduates from the College of Fine Arts and the Tabor School of Business will participate in the second ceremony at 3 p.m. Doors will open at 2 p.m. 

Gavin King
Gavin King

The afternoon ceremony will feature student speaker Gavin King, of Grandview, Mo., who is graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the College of Fine Arts with a major in Theatre Acting. Gavin’s speech is titled “To Infinity and Beyond.”  

Gavin found the love of acting at a young age and used that passion for performance at Millikin, being part of serval main stage theatre productions. Gavin was a choreographer for Decatur’s Theatre 7, the Champaign and Urbana Park Districts and helped promote diversity and inclusion on campus as Brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He also served as the School of Theatre & Dance student representative on the Committee on Student Affairs for the Board of Trustees.  

This year's commencement keynote speaker is legendary singer and voice actress, Jodi Benson, a 1993 Millikin graduate in Theatre. 

Jodi has received worldwide recognition and critical acclaim as the beloved singing and speaking voice of Ariel in the Academy Award-winning Walt Disney animated feature film, “The Little Mermaid,” as well as the bubbly voice of Tour Guide Barbie in Disney Pixar's “Toy Story II,” winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture.  

Jodi’s other film projects include “Toy Story III,” “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea,” “The Little Mermaid III,” “Wreck it Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Lady and The Tramp II,” “101 Dalmatians II,” “Enchanted,” and “Joseph: King of Dreams.” 

Jodi Benson
Jodi Benson

Jodi received a Tony Award and a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical for creating the starring role of Polly Baker in the Tony Award-winning Broadway Gershwin musical “Crazy For You.” 

Jodi received the prestigious Disney Legend Award, recognizing individuals who have made an extraordinary and integral contribution to The Walt Disney Company.  

In 2022, Jodi authored a book, “Part of My World: What I’ve Learned from The Little Mermaid about Love, Faith and Finding My Voice,” that shares behind-the-scenes stories from her career.   

The character of Ariel whom Jodi made famous returns to cinemas this summer as Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid” will be released on May 26, 2023.  

For more information on Millikin University's May 2023 commencement ceremonies, please visit