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Nov. 30, 2023

Nobel Prize-winning scientist, influential leaders to address fall graduates

Accomplished scholars and leaders will join in celebrating the achievements of more than 4,400 Spartan graduates during Michigan State University’s fall semester commencement ceremonies Dec. 15 and 16. This year’s undergraduate fall class is composed of students from more than 34 countries, 38 U.S. states and 72 of Michigan’s 83 counties.


“I want to congratulate our fall graduates as they complete their academic goals and cross the Breslin stage to collect their diplomas,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “MSU provides each graduate with a robust, world-class education that empowers them to innovate, inspire, lead and persevere through endeavors that lie ahead.”


John Hildebrand, an accomplished  scholar in the fields of neurobiology and chemical ecology and international secretary for the National Academy of Sciences, will kick off the graduation season at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 15. Hildebrand will address doctoral, master’s and educational specialist degree recipients and will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.


Two separate ceremonies will take place on Dec.16 to honor baccalaureate degree recipients. At 10 a.m., MSU alum Linda Apsey, president and CEO of the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company, ITC Holdings Corp., will address graduating students from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Business, Education, Music, Social Science, James Madison College and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities. She will receive an honorary Doctor of Business degree.

At 2 p.m., David MacMillan, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University and recipient of the 2021 Nobel Prize in chemistry, will conclude university commencement ceremonies. MacMillan will address graduating students from the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Communication Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Lyman Briggs College, Natural Science and Nursing. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

All ceremonies will be held at the Breslin Student Events Center, 534 Birch Road on the East Lansing campus. The events will be livestreamed and available to view via MSU’s commencement ceremonies webpage. Social media users can follow the ceremonies on X, formerly known as Twitter, and other social media platforms using #SpartanGrad23.

Family, friends and fellow alums will be able to honor graduating students by submitting personalized messages and photos to be displayed on stage prior to the ceremonies. Supporters can submit their well wishes online starting today through graduation day. Each ceremony below has its own unique link for message submissions.

For the safety of attendees, only small, transparent bags are allowed. Cameras, camcorders and certain carrying cases also are permitted. More information about the bag policy is available on the Breslin Center’s website. No food or beverages — including bottled water — will be allowed, and this applies to graduates, guests and faculty. The Breslin Center will offer a limited concessions menu during the ceremonies. Additional prohibited items include noisemakers, selfie sticks, pets, signs and weapons of any form. Breslin Center is a smoke-free facility. Metal detectors will screen all attendees, so please plan accordingly.

Speaker biographies

Linda Apsey

MSU alum Linda Apsey is a highly accomplished and inspiring business professional. In her current role as president and CEO of ITC Holdings Corp., the nation’s largest independent electricity transmission company, Apsey sets the strategic vision for ITC in a global context that includes energy conservation and policy.

Apsey’s expertise in the business sector is derived from a wide spectrum of business and commerce settings and experiences, including her appointments to the Growing Michigan Together Council, Detroit Economic Club, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and others. Apsey is also a former member of the Broad College of Business Alumni Board of Directors.

Her professional accomplishments include receiving the Forest Project Award and 2022 Gold Tier Program Award from the Wildlife Habitat Council. Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in public affairs management and Master of Business Administration from Michigan State University.

John Hildebrand

Portrait of John Hildebrand

John Hildebrand is a highly accomplished leader and scholar in the fields of neurobiology and chemical ecology. His work includes vital research regarding insect chemosensory behavior and building defense strategies against crop pests and vectors of human diseases. Hildebrand is also recognized for his leadership roles within the international societies of Chemical Ecology and Neuroethology, the Association for Chemoreception Sciences, the Society for Neuroscience and the National Academy of Sciences.

Hildebrand has received numerous esteemed awards including the Humboldt Research Award, the Max Planck Research Award, the Wigglesworth Memorial Award and the Silver Medal from the International Society of Chemical Ecology.

Hildebrand holds a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Harvard University and a Doctor of Biochemistry from the Rockefeller University.

David MacMillan

David MacMillan is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University. MacMillan’s research is centered around organic synthesis and catalysis. He helped launch and direct the Princeton Catalysis Initiative, which performs collaborative research with pharmaceuticals in labs like the Merck Center for Catalysis and has developed innovative technologies while addressing difficulties in molecule construction for drug discovery.

MacMillan has earned numerous awards for his innovative work, including the 2021 Nobel Prize in chemistry, the Chirality Medal, the American Chemical Society’s Kosolapoff Award and the Harrison Howe ACS Award in Chemistry, among others.

His educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Glasgow and a Doctor of Chemistry from the University of California Irvine.

By: Mark Bullion

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