University of Wisconsin-Stout Professor Loretta Thielman led her final University of Wisconsin-Stout commencement processional May 5, as university marshal of the proceedings.
Thielman, a professor of statistics, is retiring later this month after 35 years at the university. She has served as the university marshal for about five years, carrying the university mace and leading the procession in and the recession out for commencement services.
The university typically has three commencement ceremonies each May and two in December, meaning Thielman has carried the mace for approximately 25 ceremonies.
“I enjoy watching the faculty come in in their very lush college robes,” Thielman said. “I love looking at the faces of the graduates. They are just brimming over with happiness.
“I just think it’s fun,” she added. “It starts the celebration.”
Sometimes if jazz music is playing, Thielman, of Menomonie, said she will lead the recessional with a bit of a dance.
“Dr. Thielman has made a lasting contribution to UW-Stout through her dedication to her students and her service to the university, including carrying the UW-Stout mace that leads the processional into commencement,” said Provost Patrick Guilfoile, vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs. “I know how much UW-Stout means to her, and I hope she knows how much we all value her commitment to the students and the institution.”
The university marshal is the most senior member of the faculty who wishes to take the position. There are also three other marshals from faculty, academic staff and university staff, known as assistant marshals. Two of the assistant marshals help lead the graduating students and other faculty and staff. The third assistant marshal is onstage to help Chancellor Bob Meyer pass out diploma covers.
Thielman, a Beloit Memorial High School graduate and Chicago native, earned her undergraduate degree in mathematics education at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. She graduated with her Master of Science degree and doctorate in statistics with a minor in mathematics from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., where she met her husband, Peter. Peter Thielman, a UW-Stout retired senior lecturer, has continued to teach statistics part time at the university.
The mace weighs about 5 pounds, Thielman estimated.
“It’s kind of heavy and top heavy,” the mother of four grown children remarked. “The staff of the mace is part metal and part wood. There are ridges between the sections, so it is fairly easy to get a good hold on the staff. We used to carry the mace bare-handed, but the metal can tarnish fairly easily. There is a polishing cloth kept in the case with the mace to remove fingerprints and beginnings of tarnish. We also now have white gloves to wear when carrying the mace.”
Loretta Thielman agreed to marshal only after she realized she would wear a UW-Stout robe, not owning one from Oregon State University.
She has enjoyed working at UW-Stout, getting to know lots of great students and colleagues. The campus has added many new buildings, renovated many more and the grounds grow more beautiful every year. She has also enjoyed living in Menomonie. “It’s a great place to raise a family,” she said.
After retirement Loretta Thielman said she and Peter plans to travel to visit family in Oregon, on the East Coast and in Nashville, Tenn. They also plan to take trips to Canada, Hawaii and Europe.