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More than 1,000 students – a record for a Northwest commencement weekend – are expected to receive their degrees when the University hosts its annual spring commencement ceremonies in May. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

More than 1,000 students – a record for a Northwest commencement weekend – are expected to receive their degrees when the University hosts its annual spring commencement ceremonies in May. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

April 4, 2019

More than 1,000 expected to receive degrees during spring commencement ceremonies May 3-4

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A record number of students are expected to graduate from Northwest Missouri State University when it hosts its spring commencement ceremonies Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4, with a distinguished faculty member and an entrepreneuring alumnus delivering commencement addresses to the degree candidates and their families.

The commencement ceremonies begin at 7 p.m. Friday in Bearcat Arena when Northwest confers bachelor’s degrees in its School of Education in addition to master’s and education specialist degrees. The ceremony also will recognize Northwest candidates for the doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis with the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Dr. Michael Rogers, an associate professor in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems who received the 2019 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education, will address the Friday evening ceremony.

“Dr. Michael Rogers is innovative, known, respected and recognized,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “We love his focus on including bleeding-edge technology into his classes. Makerspaces, game development, app development and virtual and augmented reality are part of his language and he connects so well with our students. We enjoy having our Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education recipients share their thoughts with our graduates-to-be and loved ones, and we look forward to hearing from Michael.”

Brian Weaver, a Northwest alumnus and businessman with nearly 20 years of experience in leading mission-driven, high-growth technology-enabled companies, will address Saturday’s ceremonies. The University honors bachelor’s degree candidates from the School of Communication and Mass Media, the School of Computer Science and Information Systems, the School of Agricultural Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences at 10 a.m. in Bearcat Arena. At 2 p.m., bachelor’s degree candidates representing the Melvin D. & Valorie G. Booth School of Business and the School of Health Science and Wellness.

“Brian is an entrepreneur-extraordinaire,” Jasinski said. “His story is fantastic and his meteoric rise tracks back to his time at Northwest, connecting – as Bearcats do – with marketplace needs. He leads and has led mission-driven, high-growth technology-enabled companies and his current focus on artificial intelligence illustrates his ability to stay current in his field. I am confident our graduates-to-be and loved ones will find Brian engaging, relevant and thought-provoking.”

Northwest expects more than 1,000 students to receive degrees this spring. The University reports nearly 300 students will receive master’s or specialist degrees through the University’s graduate school, and more than 730 undergraduate students are expected to receive bachelor’s degrees.

Doors will open to guests one hour prior to each ceremony. No tickets are necessary to attend the ceremonies. To accommodate guests who cannot attend, Northwest will offer a live online stream of the ceremonies at   

Graduates along with their families and friends also are invited to interact with Northwest social media before, during and after the commencement ceremonies. Users may share their graduation memories on Twitter by using the hashtag #NWGrad, or submit graduation photos to Northwest’s Flickr feed. Photos may be taken with mobile devices and emailed to Submitted photos will appear immediately on Northwest’s Flickr page at

Candidates for graduation may pick up caps and gowns on the first floor of the Administration Building from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 29, through Friday, May 3, or one hour prior to each ceremony on May 3 and May 4.

More information about Rogers and Weaver is provided below. For more details about commencement ceremonies at Northwest, visit

About Dr. Michael Rogers

Dr. Michael Rogers, an associate professor in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems, is Northwest’s 2019 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education.

Rogers, who joined the Northwest faculty in 2009, is respected by faculty and students for his innovation, teaching methodologies, work ethic and investment of time with students outside of class. Based on his research of new technology, knowledge gained from attending national conferences and from relationships with industry professionals, he has implemented bleeding-edge technology into his classes. Students are highly motivated to enroll in his courses, usually filling all available seats.

Outside the classroom, Rogers established a makerspace to provide students hands-on experience with new technology. He also collaborated with colleagues to obtain a Google grant to provide online and face-to-face training and support to K-12 educators teaching computer science concepts.

Rogers has a Ph.D. in statistics from Iowa State University, a master’s degree in applied computer science from Illinois State University and a bachelor’s degree in statistics from the University of Winnipeg. His academic interests include computer science education, game development, app development, and virtual and augmented reality.

Dr. Michael Rogers

About Brian Weaver

Brian Weaver is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Torch.AI, a Leawood, Kansas, based company that helps leading organizations leverage artificial intelligence via a proprietary enterprise data management software solution. Torch.AI supports clients with fraud detection and mitigation as well as machine-learning-enabled background investigations for the purpose of credentialing federal employees.

Prior to Torch.AI, Weaver launched or acquired several companies focused on technology-enabled services and data connectivity. His first company focused on using data to influence ticket purchasing behavior for NASCAR events. In 2009, he acquired the international medical device information company, MEDQOR, and rapidly evolved his concepts around leveraging data at scale to solve problems. Today, MEDQOR serves more than 1,000 firms in the FDA-regulated medical device manufacturing economy.

Weaver’s companies have been recognized as a Kansas City Small Business of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Forbes recently featured Torch.AI’s concepts related to data encapsulation using blockchain technologies. In 2017, Torch.AI received the DefenseTechConnect (DTC) Innovation Award during competition in DTC’s Defense Innovation Technology Acceleration Challenges.

Weaver is a 1995 graduate of Northwest, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in communication. He also participates in Ironman competitions at an elite level in the U.S. and Europe and has been ranked as high as No. 1 in the amateur class.

Brian Weaver


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215