FUNCTION: To advise the Faculty Council, the president, and academic
deans on policy matters, including selection of speakers, in planning
graduation, Honors Day, and other formal academic ceremonies. (http://www.utexas.edu/faculty/council/2005-2006/standcom/C-3.html)
The Committee on Commencement and Academic Ceremonies met twice during
the academic year to discuss the organization and planning of formal
academic ceremonies, including Honors Day.
The chair conducted a poll on committee members’ preferences
for potential candidates for 2006 University-wide commencement speaker.
Recommendations were forwarded to the office of President Faulkner
who had requested these suggestions. Ten names were submitted based
on a total of thirty-eight potential candidates, including two individuals
not on the master list of existing nominations (Kofi Annan, secretary
general of the United Nations and 2001 Nobel Peace Prize winner and
Roy Spence, president of GSD&M). Seventy-five percent of
the committee participated in the poll, indicating Maya Angelou as
the top choice. Other names that received a number of votes equal to
the number of other candidates ranked below her were: Tony Garza, Alan
Greenspan, Oprah Winfrey, and Lance Armstrong.
At the spring committee meeting, several issues were discussed:
||Honors Day. The fifty-eighth annual Honors Day recognizing
College Scholars and Distinguished College Scholars will be held
on April 8, 2006. Ms. Duy-Loan Le, a Young Texas Ex and Outstanding
Young Graduate of the College of Engineering, will present the
convocation address. This year, 4,785 students qualified for College
Scholar honors and 1,199 were named Distinguished College Scholars.
Two University-wide ceremonies are held to accommodate the large
number of student honorees and their guests who attend annually.
Colleges and schools also host special activities to recognize
||University-wide Ceremony. The United States Ambassador
to Mexico, Antonio O. Garza, Jr., was the commencement
speaker. Among the special considerations this year will
- Continuation of efforts to increase faculty participation
to 15% or 329.
- Development of ceremonial elements for the new Jackson
School of Geosciences (e.g., mace, dean's medallion of
office, banners, stoles).
- Increase in number of staff volunteers.
- Addition of new ceremonies for the Jackson School and
the Dallas/Mexico City MBA program.
- Enhanced service to guests with disabilities.
- Post May 2006, consider contracting with photo vendor
to improve services and reduce costs to students.
||Speaker suggestions for 2007. Several suggestions were
offered to be added to the cumulative list maintained by
the Office of Relationship Management and University Events.
It was suggested that speakers be assessed based on their
style and their abilities to engage and inspire students and to serve as role
- First Lady Laura Bush because of her current role and status
as a UT alumna
- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton based on his current work on issues
of nutrition, HIV disease, health care via non-government organizations
- Senator Hillary Clinton because of her public role and future in public
- (person nominated by Juan Gonzalez) with Monterry Tecnológico
|| Student input. Ashley Austin, a student member of the
committee, sent suggestions by email because she was unable
to attend (See memo below).
Memo from Ashley Austin
From: Ashley Austin
To: Jacqueline Angel
Subject: Commencement and Academic Ceremonies Committee- Meeting Reminder
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2006 18:26:17 -0600
Here are my thoughts on Commencement. I have rolled my answers to
both questions into one answer. Please let me know if you have any
I do not have any suggestions for a specific speaker but I think the
biggest concern for students is to have someone who is not boring,
who remembers what it was like to be a student but can understand the
differences between the students of yesterday and today and also who
can offer advice that is relevant to student life. No one wants to
sit and listen to someone talk about achieving goals and moving forward
in life. I would like to see a speaker that could address many of the
fears and anxieties students face during this supposedly happy time.
I'm not saying that students are all unhappy and hate graduation; I'm
just thinking that during this happy time many students feel very scared
and uncertain about the future. It would be refreshing to hear a speaker
that could address those fears but also give hope to the students that
things will work out in the end.
As far as concerns, I don't know of any right off the top of my head.
I would guess that the biggest ones would just be that commencement
is entertaining and not a complete bore. Engaging students in the activities
around them is the best suggestion I have for keeping student interest
alive. If I hear of any concerns within the next few weeks, I will
pass the information along to you.
Jacqueline L. Angel, chair