Commencement and Academic Ceremonies Committee
Committee Members: Jacqueline Angel (chair), Victor Arnold,
Judith Jellison, Arthur Markman, Julie Sowa, Linda Reichl, Meggie Scholtz,
Susan Clagett, John Graham, Ernest Hunter, Jerry Junkin, Susan Kessler,
Let me begin by thanking all members of the Committee on Commencement
and Academic Ceremonies. The committee has met twice since the beginning
of the academic year to discuss the organization and planning of academic
||At the first meeting, outgoing University Marshal, Minette (Meme)
Drumwright, reported on priorities during her tenure, including
efforts to increase faculty participation in Commencement. Among
the activities that resulted in over a 100% increase in faculty
attendance (to 318 faculty) are the following:
||Parking was provided in the San Antonio Garage with a free
shuttle service to the reception in the McCombs School of
||Reception honoring faculty catered by the Campus Club was
co-hosted by President Faulkner and Dean Gau prior to the
||A free regalia loan program was created by the University
Co-op to make doctoral regalia available to faculty. Regalia
were allocated to colleges based on percentage of faculty.
In May 2003, forty-eight out of fifty sets were utilized.
In December 2003, forty sets were used. Free regalia were
requested by two faculty marshals for Honors Day 2004.
||The faculty’s role in Commencement was enhanced and
became a more visible ceremonial element in the program.
The faculty procession was introduced and began from the
Main Building, to the South Mall to form an honor guard for
||Faculty seating was improved by elevating seating on the
upper terrace, adjacent to the stage.
||Faculty were introduced by deans and asked to stand with
the degree candidates.
||Discussion addressed concerns expressed by past December graduates
who felt that their Commencement experience was less than that
provided to students in May. Several enhancements were discussed
and the group added other ideas. The following changes were implemented
in December 2003 to make the fall graduations more meaningful and
parallel to the spring ceremony:
||Fall Commencement Web site was created.
||E-mail communications were sent centrally to degree candidates.
||Press release was developed to announce fall schedule of
||Street banners were hung.
||Tower lighting was modified to add “03” in
||Committee members also offered suggestions for Commencement speakers.
In recent weeks, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Donald L. Evans, a
UT graduate and Distinguished Alumnus, was announced as the speaker
at the 121st Spring Commencement of The University of Texas at
On April 3, 2004, approximately 1600 undergraduates attended Honors
Day ceremonies held in the Bass Concert Hall. Two central ceremonies
are held to accommodate the large numbers of students and their guests
who attended. At these ceremonies, honors students received honors cords
donated by the University Co-op. Students with 4.0 grade point averages
received commemorative medallions from their deans. At the central ceremony,
Dr. Jacqueline Angel presided over her first ceremony as University Marshal.
Outgoing University Marshal Meme Drumwright was recognized for her service
from 2001-03. A number of college and school ceremonies were planned
in conjunction with these activities.
||At the second meeting on April 19 the committee discussed several
logistical matters related to the University-wide Commencement.
Major improvements for Commencement 2004 include expanded safety
and security initiatives and organizational and support services
for guests with disabilities. Judith Jellison, the Equal Employment
Opportunity Office, Dean of Students Office, Physical Plant, and
the Office of Relationship Management and University Events worked
together to develop these plans. Plans are also underway to provide
a map of accessible restrooms in the area surrounding the Main/South
Malls. Approximately 30,000 guests are expected to attend the 121st
Spring Commencement. Based on last year’s faculty attendance,
more than 300 faculty members are anticipated to participate in
||As described earlier, several measures are being taken to help
foster faculty involvement. The University Co-op has established
a free-loan regalia program for faculty attending the Saturday
evening University-wide Commencement. In addition, a free shuttle
and parking for faculty will be available. In addition, President
Faulkner and Dean of the McCombs School of Business, George Gau,
will host a pre-ceremony reception in honor of the faculty. Faculty
will also receive special recognition at the ceremony. The president
will announce new inductees to the Academy of Distinguished Teachers
and Friar’s Society. Each dean will give formal recognition
of their participating faculty members during the ceremony.
||Members of the Faculty Council are encouraged to submit names
of potential Commencement speakers to any member of the committee.
The committee offered the following names: Renee Zellweger, Oprah
Winfrey, Molly Ivins, Red McCombs, President Jimmy Carter, and
Marsha Gay Harden, among others..
Jacqueline Angel, chair