The 78th commencement ceremony will return to a traditional format on Saturday, May 14, in the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center at Missouri Southern State University.

The graduating class includes 556 students earning 676 bachelor’s degrees; 97 students receiving associate’s degrees; and 33 students earning 33 master’s degrees.

Graduates from the College of Business and the College of Education will participate in a 10 a.m. ceremony; while the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Health Sciences and students receiving a Bachelor of General Studies degree will be honored during the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Commencement ceremonies in 2020 and 2021 were offered in a “walkthrough” format due to COVID 19 concerns.

“We’re happy to be able to return to a more traditional format,” said Dr. Lisa Toms, provost/vice president of academic affairs. “We surveyed our students earlier this spring to gather their thoughts and ideas for this year’s commencement ceremony.

“We will be incorporating their preferences for the return of traditional elements of the ceremony as well as the addition of more unique photo opportunities, including a miniature version of the commencement stage.”

The keynote speaker at both ceremonies will be Katie (Gariss) Marsh.

A 2002 graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree in biology, Marsh was a member of the Honors Program and maintained a 4.0 GPA. That same year, she was named Academic All-American of the Year in 2002 by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Marsh also served as president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She was also a two-time Academic All-American, a two-time MIAA Presidential Scholar, and a three-time MIAA Academic Honor Roll honoree.

In 2012, she was inducted into the Missouri Southern Athletics Hall of Fame.

After graduating from Missouri Southern, she continued her education and earned her master’s degree in physician assistant studies. She has worked as a physician assistant in orthopedics for the past 17 years, and lives in Joplin with her husband, Josh, and three children – Kinley, Hunter, Will and Campbell.

KGCS-TV will offer a live telecast and stream of each ceremony, and an electronic download will be available for purchase.

For more information and for the live stream links, visit