ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS (April 17, 2024) — Augustana College announces higher-education leader Dr Lisa Durant-Jones will deliver the commencement address at the college's 164th annual convocation on May 25. She will also be awarded a doctor of humane letters during the ceremony at the Vibrant Arena at the Mark.

Dr Durant-Jones served Augustana as Interim Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion during the 2023-2024 academic year, during which time she provided strategic leadership for campus-wide initiatives and committees. She oversaw Augustana’s Office for International Student Scholar Supports and the Office for Student Inclusion and Diversity and served as a member of the Student First Committee of the Board of Trustees.

She is credited with facilitating improved processes for recognizing and addressing equity gaps within the student experience for under-represented and international-student populations.

President Andrea Talentino said Dr Durant-Jones was selected for this honor for the same reasons she was selected to serve at Augustana.

“Lisa is an extraordinary leader in higher education,” Pres Talentino said. “Her time at Augustana was impactful and ensured Augustana continued its forward momentum in creating a more inclusive, equitable, and just community. She has a deep empathy for and commitment to helping people achieve their best.”

Prior to her time at Augustana, Dr Durant-Jones served as associate vice president of academic affairs and then vice president of community and belonging at Nazareth University, Rochester, New York. She is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist in the state of New York and was named Nazareth faculty emerita in August 2022.

Ashley Allen, director of the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity, said Dr Durant-Jones was a familiar face around campus interacting with students and staff.

“This was a testament to how she served our institution as an engaged leader,” Allen said. “Her visibility, genuine care for our students and community, and ability to empower her team, were qualities I observed and admired as I worked closely with her.

“In her brief tenure at Augustana, Dr Durant-Jones not only made an impact but truly made us a better community because of her leadership and devotion to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Augustana’s Class of 2024 will represent 68 majors with students from 20 states and fourteen countries.

A complete list of commencement related events is available at

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