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The Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design awarded bachelor of fine arts degrees to 130 students on May 9 in the Milwaukee Public Library’s Centennial Hall.

Lauded by honorary doctorate recipient Kenneth L. Leinbach, executive director of the Urban Ecology Center , as the most talented, dedicated and creative collegiate thinkers he encounters, the graduates joined 2,700 other alumni whose skills fuel today’s economy and society.

This year’s commencement also honored Professor Ron Bitticks (Fine Arts, Painting) and the late Professor Ellen Vincent (Foundations) – the first faculty to earn Emeritus status from MIAD’s Board of Trustees.

In keeping with MIAD tradition, the graduates elected speakers for their commencement exercises.

Annie Lock, a Dean’s Honor student originally from Lawrence, Kansas, who majored in Integrated Studio Arts. Extensively involved in the MIAD and local communities, she received the 2009 Northwestern Mutual Service Learning Scholarship Award for outstanding community service. Through her work with Artists Working in Education, she also started an after school art program at Milwaukee’s Clark Street School. Her senior thesis project, “Relief Through Art and Music,” is an interactive piano installation that integrates visual and auditory art forms, uniting her past passions with her current work and goal of pursuing an education in Art Therapy.

Joe Boblick , a member of MIAD’s Foundations faculty and a Pre-College instructor, has widely exhibited throughout Milwaukee. “He is renowned for his gentle yet persistent probing of students’ thinking,” said Provost David Martin , “and treats every student with fierce respect and integrity.”

Steve Hyma, a President’s Honor student who majored in Industrial Design. Originally from Middleton, Wis., Hyma was awarded the national Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) Merit Award and nominated the Outstanding Student in the Midwest. His senior thesis project uses design to bring a new perspective to urban gardening through modular containers that can fit on a small balcony but also span a rooftop. Encompassing storage space, mobility and a reservoir for recycling water, Elevate, bring your plants to a new level, allows users to create their own environment.