FAYETTE, Iowa (May 1, 2020) – An Upper Iowa University (UIU) alumnus will deliver the commencement address during the University’s first virtual graduation ceremonies on Saturday, May 9.

A native of rural Westgate, Iowa, Neil Wilkinson ’99 has been in the financial services industry since 2000, where he specializes in business planning, retirement planning, and estate planning strategies for Financial Decisions Group. He has held the president role at the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of Iowa, Oelwein Rotary Club, and Oelwein Chamber and Area Development. A current UIU Board of Trustee member, Wilkinson is currently the chairman of Security Mutual Insurance and the Fortunaires Foundation.  He enjoys farming and spending time with his family.

“Upper Iowa University’s mission is to inspire success and empower lives, and I’m greatly appreciative of all the opportunities that my UIU education has provided me,” Wilkinson said. “My family shares a similar belief in giving back to your community and especially enjoys staying involved with organizations and projects that benefit current and future generations.”

Wilkinson earned bachelor’s degrees in finance and business management from UIU, and later received a Master of Science degree in financial services from The American College. He has been honored with the UIU Young Alumni Award and spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for UIU’s Andres Center in 2005. Neil and his wife, Heidi, reside in Fairbank, Iowa, with their two sons, Tate and Cael.

In addition to Wilkinson’s message to the 2020 graduates, the virtual event includes the traditional speeches provided by president William R. Duffy, Board of Trustees chairman Dennis Murdoch and vice president of External Affairs Andrew Wenthe. Rather than graduates walking across a stage, the honorees will have their names read and submitted photos of graduates will be shown. In addition to video messages from UIU faculty and staff, a video celebrating the past school year is also scheduled.

The four May 9 virtual ceremonies are scheduled as follows:

  • 9 a.m. – Graduate and undergraduate candidates from the University’s military centers located in Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley, Kansas; and Fort Polk/DeRidder and New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • 11 a.m. – Master of Business Administration, Master of Sport Administration, School of Business and Professional Studies undergraduate programs, and associate degrees with an emphasis in general business.
  • 1 p.m. – Master of Public Administration, Master of Science in Counseling, School of Arts and Sciences undergraduate programs, and associate degrees with an emphasis in liberal arts, criminal justice or psychology.
  • 3 p.m. – Master of Education and Andres School of Education undergraduate programs.

UIU’s 163rd in-person commencement ceremony at Fayette Campus was transitioned to the virtual format on March 19 due to COVID-19 and in the interest of the health, safety and welfare of students, visitors and employees upon consult with local and state public health officials.

Each virtual ceremony will be available to view live online at uiu.edu/support/commencement.html or www.facebook.com/upperiowauniversity/. Graduates will be provided a link to download a digital copy of their respective programs. In addition, the ceremonies will be posted to UIU’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/UpperIowaUniversity.