A balloon drop at Commencement

2024 Commencement Celebrates More Than 1,000 New Graduates

On Monday, May 20, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) community gathered at Wintrust Arena to celebrate the graduating classes of 2024. At the ceremony, hundreds of graduates crossed the stage to receive their degrees.

After eight years as president, and 14 years at SAIC overall, President Elissa Tenny spoke at her final Commencement ceremony before her retirement. “While the future holds neither much certainty nor many unassailable truths, your ability to thrive is not predicated on the world being tidy, predictable, or free of difficulty,” shared Tenny. “You will meet the challenges of our shared society with the same ability to readjust that you practiced at SAIC.”              

Also at the ceremony, Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Emerita Felice Dublon received the Golden Lion Award to recognize her nearly 40 years at SAIC, honoring her incredible impact on the School community. 

Commencement speaker An-My Lê

The Commencement address was delivered by world-renowned photographer An-My Lê, who received an honorary doctorate alongside alum and artist Sanford Biggers (MFA 1999). “As you enter this new adventure in your life as artists, architects, art historians, writers, and art therapists, I hope that you will have the open mind, the courage, and conviction to tackle subjects that are larger than yourself,” Lê said in her Commencement address. “I hope you will explore these subjects with all the complexity and discernment they demand.”

Commencement by the Numbers

Number of graduating students: 1,028
Number of undergraduate students: 691
Number of graduate students: 337
Number of first-gen undergraduate students: 16
Number of honorary doctorate recipients: 2
Number of balloons dropped: 4,000
Number of supporters in attendance: More than 5,000

A student kisses their child when crossing the stage