Mount Mercy graduating class breaks all-time record

Other Iowa schools post high graduation totals; AIB to confer degrees for final time

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Mount Mercy University this weekend will confer degrees on nearly 575 undergraduate and graduate students — making it the largest graduating class in school history.

The nearly 400 undergraduate students and 175 graduate students are invited Sunday to participate in commencement ceremonies in Cedar Rapids’ U.S. Cellular Center. Those numbers exceed the previous Mount Mercy graduation record set in 2012, and they include the school’s first-ever graduates to complete their degrees entirely online.

“While we are proud of each and every one of our graduates, I would like to give special congratulations to our first Mount Mercy online students graduating this year,” said Scot Reisinger, dean of adult programs. “These students join other noteworthy inaugural graduating classes in Mount Mercy history: adult accelerated students, university students, graduate students and now online students.”

Coe College earlier this month graduated about 280 students — holding steady with previous years, according to Coe spokesman Lonnie Zingula. Cornell College, which also conferred degrees in early May, reported 273 graduates — on par with recent classes of 271 last spring, 273 in 2014, and 266 in 2013.

University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa all reported graduate increases — ISU broke another record with 4,601 students.

Mount Mercy’s 175 graduate-student tally this spring is 41 percent above last year’s graduate student class, and President Laurie Hamen said the school’s “significant accomplishment is a testament to the quality and value of a Mount Mercy University education and the efforts of our extraordinary faculty and staff.”

Kirkwood Community College is expecting a slightly smaller graduating class this year than in the past two years, with 1,430 students graduating this spring and another 585 graduation applications pending the summer session, according to Justin Hoehn, Kirkwood spokesman.

That 2,015 total is down from 2,364 last year and 2,342 in the 2014-15 year, which is indicative of standard fluctuations, Hoehn said.

AIB’s last class

AIB College of Business in Des Moines — which last year announced plans to gift its $21.55 million campus to the University of Iowa — will hold its final commencement ceremony Sunday before officially closing June 30.

More than 220 graduates are expected to participate in the 2 p.m. ceremony at Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines. The AIB class of 2016 includes more than 400 students who have completed requirements for associate or bachelor’s degrees in the past year, according to AIB spokeswoman Jane

Although AIB officials originally envisioned the closing college as a second UI campus, plans quickly morphed and the Board of Regents days after the gift announcement said AIB instead would become a regents-run regional center.

And even as some programming is slated for the new “Regents Resource Center” later this year, the board is paying more than $91,000 for a consultant to assess the need for one. As part of the “needs assessment,” MGT of America, Inc. will evaluate current and long-term demand for degree programs in the Des Moines area.

The firm also will conduct an “objective and independent analysis of potential locations.”

“This facet of the study is complicated by the recent acquisition of the AIB campus in Des Moines by the University of Iowa,” according to the MGT proposal.

The needs assessment and evaluation of optimal locations opens the door for a possible sale of the property — despite AIB officials’ stated intention for the campus to move forward as an academic institution.

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