2013 graduations feature Fraser, Cook


Two distinguished community servants will share their views on the importance of higher education with Southwestern Illinois College graduating classes this week.

Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, will deliver the keynote address at the college’s Commencement Ceremony, Thursday, May 16, 7 p.m., in the Belleville Campus Varsity Gymnasium, 2500 Carlyle Ave. Belleville attorney Bruce N. Cook, LLB, will serve as keynote speaker for the college’s GED Certification Ceremony Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m., also in the Varsity Gym.

“We are honored to have two such distinguished individuals speaking at our graduation ceremonies," said SWIC President Georgia Costello, Ph.D. “Our students can learn first-hand how far education can take them from two remarkable men who have risen to the top of their fields.”

As commander of USTRANSCOM, Gen. Fraser is responsible for the management of global air, land and sea transportation for the Department of Defense, and more than 150,000 Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and civilian personnel. He has commanded an operations group, two bomb wings, and a major command. His staff duties include tours on the Air Staff, Joint Staff, NATO and Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. He has also served as chief of staff for U.S. Strategic Command, the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and was the 34th Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force.  

In addition to Gen. Fraser, graduating student Glenda Eaton of O’Fallon will address the class of 2013.  

SWIC annually graduates more than 1,400 students. Approximately 250 participate in the ceremony. Serving nearly 25,000 students annually at three campuses and numerous off-campus sites, the college confers Associate in Arts, Associate in Fine Arts, Associate in Engineering Studies, Associate in General Studies, Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science degrees.

Cook is a lifelong resident of St. Clair County. He attended East St. Louis Senior High School but earned his GED while in the U.S. Navy in 1958. He briefly attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he served as president of the Student Senate in 1963; and graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1966. There, he served on the Law Review, gave the valedictory address at his graduation from law school, was elected to the Order of the Coif (academic honorary), was president of the student body and was selected outstanding senior by the faculty in 1966. He has been selected by the National Law Journal as one of the top 10 trial lawyers in the state of Illinois – the only non-Chicago lawyer selected. In March 2007, he was selected by Leading Lawyer Magazine as one of the top 100 lawyers in the state of Illinois – the only lawyer chosen from St. Clair County – and has been selected as a “Laureate” of the Academy of Illinois Lawyers.

GED recipients Willie Grover of Cahokia and Rachel Stateler of Granite City will address fellow certificate recipients as well.

The college’s Health Sciences Pinning Ceremony will take place Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m. in St. Peter’s Cathedral, Belleville. Representatives from each Health Sciences program will offer farewell comments to their fellow graduates.