Hoeferlin encourages students to seek new opportunities during commencement address

December 20, 2021

Four people in academic regalia

Dean and Ketcham Professor Noah Manring, Keynote Speaker Craig Hoeferlin, ChE ’84, University of Missouri President Mun Choi and UM System Curator Robin Wenneker.

Keep everything in perspective. Embrace change. Be respectful of everyone. And step up to challenges. Those were some key pieces of advice Craig Hoeferlin, ChE ’84, had for the December graduating class of 2021.

Hoeferlin — vice president of Operations Services and Safety Management Systems at Spire in St. Louis, Mo. — was the keynote speaker at Mizzou Engineering’s Fall 2021 Commencement held on Friday at the Hearnes Center. He joined University of Missouri President Mun Choi, Mizzou Engineering Dean Noah Manring and UM System Curator Robin Wenneker to congratulate the more than 250 Mizzou Engineers earning degrees.

Hoeferlin came to Mizzou to pursue a medical profession but switched to engineering when he saw the opportunities it afforded. That ability to explore new options is what sets Mizzou apart from other engineering schools, Hoeferlin said in an interview prior to the ceremony.

“What was great about the College of Engineering was that they always encouraged you to do other things, and that’s what companies are looking for,” he said. “I got involved in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Alpha Chi Sigma and as many things as I could, and that gave me a chance to be a leader.”

During his commencement remarks, Hoeferlin stressed the importance of continuing to look for new opportunities throughout life. Don’t wait for opportunity to knock, he said, but rather pursue new paths even if they veer from traditional engineering.

“Learn something new every day at your job,” he said. “Every day I go to work I find myself learning something I didn’t know the day before. Never stop learning.”

For Hoeferlin, that includes learning to come back to Mizzou as an alumnus.

On his own graduation day, Hoeferlin admitted he hadn’t considered returning to campus for anything other than Homecoming or football.

“And those things are important and special, but I was not putting returning to Mizzou in proper perspective,” he said. “I have since learned coming back to Mizzou and Mizzou Engineering means so much more.”

Hoeferlin is a member of the Chemical Engineering Industrial Advisory Board and the Shamrock Society, which is comprised of the College’s most distinguished donors. In 2017, he was inducted into the Chemical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

“Stay involved,” he told graduates. “Help the college and ensure future generations will benefit from the opportunities you’ve received.”

By doing so, alumni can also expand their network of engineering professionals and may find new opportunities through those connections, he said.

“Become a member of the Mizzou Alumni Association, where I’ve been able to meet new friends and expand my Mizzou family,” he said. “Mizzou is truly a special place. I received an excellent engineering education that continues to benefit me to this day.”

Hoeferlin’s family is also Mizzou Made. His wife, Cheri, is a graduate of the MU School of Accountancy, and daughter, Erica, is a graduate of the Mizzou School of Nursing.


Members of the Fall 2021 graduating class.

Looking forward

During his remarks, Dean Manring said he’s looking forward to seeing what the future holds for 2021 graduates.

“This is the generation of engineers who will be tasked with solving the big challenges we face as a society,” he said. “And I can assure you our Mizzou Engineering graduates are prepared to tackle those challenges. You’ve been trained to do that.”

That’s the legacy of Mizzou Engineering, Manring said, adding that graduates are joining an elite network of engineering leaders who share Mizzou’s values of respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence.

“I’m confident you will build upon that legacy,” he said. “I am confident in your ability to usher in a more advanced, more sustainable and more compassionate world. And we’re all looking forward to that.”

Additional honors

Mizzou Engineering also honored newly commissioned U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force officers from the Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Program. Honorees were:

Air Force

  • Chad B. Walrod, 2nd Lieutenant, Mechanical Engineering


  • Alex M. Haake, Ensign, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering
  • Jack E. Vuagniaux, Ensign, Mechanical Engineering

Faculty and staff awards

Faculty and staff members were also recognized during Commencement. Students selected these individuals for their support of students and dedication of time and experience to Mizzou Engineering. Honorees were:

Congratulations, 2021 graduates! We hope you stay connected to Mizzou Engineering.