Josh Portillo, UNMC Dean Kyle Meyer speaking Friday at UNK winter commencement

WHAT: UNK Winter Commencement
WHEN: 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 15
WHERE: UNK Health and Sports Center
SOCIAL MEDIA: Follow @UNKearney on Instagram, Facebook and X to see photos and posts
LIVE BROADCAST: Watch commencement live at


KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney will host its winter commencement 10 a.m. Friday at the Health and Sports Center on campus.

Chancellor Doug Kristensen will confer degrees for 446 graduate and undergraduate students during the ceremony and present the annual Leland Holdt/Security Mutual Life Distinguished Faculty Award.

Kyle Meyer, founding dean of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Allied Health Professions, will deliver the keynote address. Meyer earned a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy and master’s degree in anatomy from UNMC, as well as a master’s degree and doctorate in public administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

He practiced pediatric physical therapy for more than 20 years and was instrumental in developing the first pediatric physical therapy department at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha. Meyer returned to UNMC in 1991 as a faculty member and director of clinical education in the physical therapy program. He served as a credentialed clinical trainer for the American Physical Therapy Association Clinical Instructor Education and Credentialing Program and the Advanced Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program for 12 years and was later appointed associate dean and senior associate dean for allied health in the College of Medicine.

Meyer was named founding dean of the newly created UNMC College of Allied Health Professions in 2015. That same year, the College of Allied Health Professions expanded to the new Health Science Education Complex on the UNK campus, allowing students to train for allied health careers in a rural setting.

The Rural Health Education Building, scheduled to open in early 2026, will allow UNMC to expand the presence of its allied health and nursing programs in Kearney while launching new programs to train physicians, pharmacists and public health professionals here. The Health Science Education Complex and Rural Health Education Building – collectively known as the Douglas A. Kristensen Rural Health Education Complex – represent the largest rural health education center in the country.

The student speaker is Josh Portillo of Clarion, Iowa, who graduates summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and a minor in media production.

Portillo was a five-time NCAA Division II national tournament qualifier, four-time All-American and two-time national finalist while competing for UNK wrestling. He’s also a two-time winner of the NCAA Elite 90 award, presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 90 national championships, and a four-time NWCA All-Academic, MIAA Scholar Athlete and MIAA Academic Honor Roll selection.

Portillo is a certified substitute teacher and mindset coach who currently serves as the assistant women’s wrestling coach at Ottawa University in Kansas.

UNK Student Body President and Student Regent Temo Molina will also address the graduates. The national anthem will be performed by UNK alumna Brette Ensz with accompanist Marilyn Musick.

Those who are unable to attend in person may watch the ceremony via livestream on UNK’s website. A recording can also be viewed later on the website.


Commencement attendees are encouraged to park in the lots west of the Health and Sports Center. Visitors with handicap permits can park east of the Health and Sports Center. Those transporting a handicapped person will have access to drop off the individual on the east side of the complex but will need to move their vehicle to another lot.

Visitors with wheelchairs can sit in the corner seating sections on the main floor of the Health and Sports Center or use the elevator in the northeast corner of the building to sit in the designated section on the arena floor.

Doors open at 8 a.m.


Guests should expect a visual inspection of person, bags and clothing capable of concealing prohibited items. Small clutch purses and wallets are preferred at entry and will expedite inspection.


For safety reasons, prohibited items include but are not limited to:

  • Any type of weapon, fake weapon or object resembling a weapon. This includes firearms, knives, tasers, chains and any item deemed to compromise public safety
  • Alcohol, drugs, illegal substances, vaporizing pens/E-cigs or any paraphernalia associated with drug use. The Health and Sports Center is a smoke-free facility
  • Animals (except service animals)
  • Laser pens/pointers of any type
  • Noisemakers (including air horns, cowbells or whistles)

If a prohibited item is revealed during a search, patrons may dispose of the item or they may return the item to their vehicle. UNK Health and Sports Center does not safeguard any personal belongings or items of any type.