University of Idaho will honor slain students with posthumous degrees

Families of the murdered University of Idaho students were expected to attend Saturday’s commencement after the school announced the conferral of posthumous awards.

(Video: KXLY)

Exactly six months after the community of Moscow, Idaho had learned that Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, Xana Kernodle and Madison Mogen had been brutally stabbed to death early Nov. 13, 2022, the victims would be among those receiving their diplomas at the Spring 2023 commencement.

“This is a great way to be able to honor the work that the students had done and be able to celebrate that work with their parents,” the University of Idaho’s director of communications Jodi Walker told KXLY of the decision to award posthumous degrees to the victims.

“These students have put in a lot of time and effort,” she added, “and we want to make sure that those families know that that is appreciated and that the students as well as these families are very much a part of our family and we want them to be a part of that.”

University of Idaho President Scott Green, who had previously honored the victims at the Winter 2022 commencement as he told attendees, “They were bright lights on our campus,” released a statement in advance of Saturday’s ceremony that said in part, “Our students have endured and persevered in their time at the university and are ready to go out into the world and make a difference.”

KXLY went on to detail that members of the Mogen and Goncalves families were expected to attend the ceremony on Saturday and accept the posthumous degrees on behalf of the murdered 21-year-olds. As to the 20-year-olds, relatives of Kernodle and Chapin were said to have asked to accept the degrees at another time.

Chapin will receive a certificate in recreation, sport and tourism management. Goncalves will earn a bachelor’s in general studies. Kernodle will be awarded a certificate in marketing. Mogen will be conferred a bachelor’s in marketing.

“We all shared an experience and we certainly won’t forget that we’ve learned and grown from it…but the healing process continues,” Walker expressed in advance of Saturday’s commencement which was expected to have over 2,300 graduates broken into two separate ceremonies.

Meanwhile, the suspect alleged to have killed the four students, after having been arrested in Monroe County, Pennsylvania in late December and extradited back to Idaho, had waived his right to a speedy hearing and is expected to return to court on June 26 for a preliminary hearing having yet to enter a plea.

In addition to the slain students, the university also announced it would be awarding a posthumous degree to Guadalupe Ruiz, who had died in a car crash in August.  That award was said to be a bachelor’s in criminology.


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