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Former Nine Inch Nails drummer and Madison resident Chris Vrenna to be Calhoun’s 2020 commencement speaker

MADISON – When Calhoun Community College honors its graduates on Friday, Aug. 7, through a virtual commencement ceremony, the commencement speaker will be Madison resident Chris Vrenna.

Vrenna is a Grammy Award-winning musician, producer, engineer, remixer, composer, and is best known as a former, founding member and drummer of the band, Nine Inch Nails. He was featured in the June issue of Madison Living Magazine. Read story here.

The commencement ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. The College’s Nursing Program will also hold its traditional Candlelighting ceremony from 10-11 a.m. Both ceremonies are closed to only participating graduates and faculty. Although guests are not permitted, the event will be live-streamed at www.calhoun.edu/graduation.

According to the Calhoun Admissions Office, more than 1,900 students have qualified for graduation. Of that number, 250 students plan to participate in this year’s ceremony.

“When making the difficult decision to go virtual, our biggest concern was the safety of our graduates, faculty and staff, as well as ensuring that this year’s virtual ceremony includes as many of the same elements as our traditional program,” commented Dr. Joe Burke, Calhoun Interim President. “Although the program will not include the personal loud cheers from family and friends congratulating the graduates as they walk across the stage, our graduation committee has been committed to planning a very meaningful experience despite our current circumstances,” added Burke.

About Chris Vrenna

After graduating from McDowell High School in his hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, Vrenna’s music career began to take off. In 1985, he marched with the Erie Thunderbirds Drum and Bugle Corps then moved to Chicago, IL, shortly after. He quickly became a part of the Chicago industrial music scene where he was a member of Die Warzau and Stabbing Westward for a short period.

In 1988, he reconnected with Trent Reznor and formed the infamous band, Nine Inch Nails (NIN). Touring all over the country for over ten years, selling over 20 million records, and nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, Vrenna and NIN became a huge rock sensation across the globe.

Throughout his impressive music career, he has remixed and programmed for numerous international artists including U2, Rob Zombie, Weezer, Evanescence, and Slipknot. A well-known video game composer, Vrenna’s vast portfolio also includes American McGee’s Alice, Doom 3, Quake 4, Call of Duty: ExoZombies, and Quake Champions. For a few years, he was also the drummer for Gnarls Barkley and the drummer/keyboardist for Marilyn Manson.

While complications from a torn rotator cuff halted his career as a professional musician, he pursued a new career that allowed him to share his passion for inspiring students in an industry that he loves. Vrenna joined the Calhoun family in the fall of 2017 as the College’s Department Head for Music Technology. With a unique and hands-on learning approach, he combines his music industry experiences with music technology education, giving students one of the most realistic introductions to the vast world of music.

Vrenna earned a Bachelor of Science degree in General Education from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio and will obtain his Master’s Degree in Music with an emphasis on Music Technology in December of 2020.

“I am extremely honored to speak to the graduates for this very special and unique commencement ceremony,” commented Vrenna. “Even though things look a bit different this year, this is still an important day, and I am so proud of our students for persevering through the hardships and struggles they had to endure over the last few months,” added Vrenna.

For more information about Calhoun’s 2020 graduation ceremonies, contact the college’s Public Relations Office at 256-306-2560 or 256-306-2965.

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