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William Trent named honorary degree recipient and featured speaker for Union College commencement

by The College of Education / May 3, 2012

Photo of William TrentApril 12, 2012 (Union College, Barbourville, Ky.)—William T. Trent, Ph.D., a 1966 graduate of Union College and professor in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the College of Education at the University of Illinois, has been chosen as the featured speaker and honorary degree recipient for Union College's 2012 Commencement ceremony.

This year's commencement will take place on Saturday, May 5, in Union's Robsion Arena. Dr. Trent will be presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

Dr. Trent is a professor in the departments of Educational Studies and Sociology at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned a Bachelor of Science in sociology at Union College, his master's degree in sociology from George Washington University and his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on educational policy, race and equality of opportunity.

He has been on faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 1983, when he started as an associate professor in the department of Educational Policy Studies. In 1992, he was named a professor in the departments of Sociology and Educational Policy Studies. He was also named associate chancellor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1994 and served until 1999. He was responsible for campus diversity issues.

During his career, Dr. Trent has contributed research and expertise to a long list of projects. Those include the American Educational Research Association, the Higher Learning Commission, the Social Science Research Council, the National Research Council, the Kellogg Forum on Higher Education, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Research Advisory Committee, the Higher Education Policy Advisory Board and the National Academy of Sciences' Board on Testing and Assessment.

Additionally, Dr. Trent served as principal investigator for three major grants: the 2005 Urban Initiative for the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the 2004 Illinois Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 2002, conducted by Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville; and the 2004 Data Analysis and Interpretation from a 2002 Longitudinal Study, conducted by the Illinois Education Research Council at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Dr. Trent has received many honors throughout his career, including recognition from the Spencer Foundation, which made him a Spencer Resident Fellow, the Fulbright Program, which chose him as Fulbright Senior Specialist, and the American Educational Research Association, which named him an Outstanding Scholar in 1999.

At Union College, Dr. Trent was inducted into the 2009 Educators Hall of Fame. In 1994, he was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame. To this day, he remains the only Union College alumnus to receive both distinctions.