View in portable document format.

Commencement and Academic Ceremonies Committee

The Committee on Commencement and Academic Ceremonies met twice during the academic year to discuss the organization and planning of formal academic ceremonies.

In the fall semester, the committee focused mainly on one piece of business: the 2007 University-wide commencement speaker. The committee forwarded suggestions of commencement speakers to the president's office in early October. Eighteen names were submitted based on a total of 69 potential candidates, including two individuals not on the master list of existing nominations (Vicente Fox, past president of Mexico and Liz Smith, author, American gossip columnist, UT alumna). Eighty-two percent of the committee participated in the poll, indicating Jimmy Carter as the top choice. Paul “Bono” Hewson, Maya Angelou, and Kofi Annan, Lance Armstrong, and Robert Rodriguez were a close second. In addition to this work, the University Marshal participated in two ceremonial events, including the installment of William Powers as the 28th President of the University of Texas at Austin on September 29, 2006, and fall graduate student commencement exercises.

The committee held a second meeting on March 23, 2007, to advise the Faculty Council and Office of the President on policy matters related to Honors Day and 2007 Commencement Exercises.

The following issues were addressed at the spring semester meeting:
Committee on Committee's Request to Consider Membership of a Student Representative from the Senate of College Councils. Student member Jordan Davisson spoke to this matter. There are three main student governance organizations here at UT. They are Student Government (SG), the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA), and the Senate of College Councils (SCC). As SG and GSA already have seats on the Faculty Council commencement committee, there is clear support of adding a seat for a member appointed by the SCC. After discussion by the committee, it was agreed that a Senate representative would be welcome and benefit the work of the group.

  • Commencement Theme. The theme for the May 2007 Commencement is "A Time for Texas" as noted in President Powers' commencement message (Appendix A).
  • University-wide Speaker. David M. Oshinsky, Jack S. Blanton Professor of History and recipient of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize will be the commencement speaker.
  • Special Issues. Among the special considerations this year will be:
    – Continuing efforts to maintain faculty participation at 15%.
    – Enhancing service for guests with disabilities.
    – Developing plan for alternative venues to colleges, schools and departments during renovations of the Performing Arts Center, Hogg Memorial Auditorium and the LBJ Auditorium between December 2007 and 2008.
Electing a New Chair. Subsequent to the committee meeting on March 23, Dr. Angel polled the committee via e-mail and Dr. Yolanda Padilla, professor of social work, was elected to chair the Standing Committee on Commencement and Academic Ceremonies in 2007-08. In this capacity, Dr. Padilla will also serve as University Marshal and will preside at University-wide academic ceremonies in the coming academic year.

Honors Day. The 59th annual Honors Day recognizing College Scholars and Distinguished College Scholars was held on April 14, 2007, in the Performing Arts Center. This year, 4,800 students qualified for College Scholar honors and 1,200 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 complementary activities to recognize their scholars individually.

Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, James B. Steinberg, will present the Honors Day convocation address. Lauren R. Koehler, a junior Plan II Honors student and 2007 Harry S. Truman Scholar, will be the marshal for students, and Manasi Deshpande, a senior Plan II Honors/economics/mathematics student and 2006 Harry S. Truman Scholar, will provide remarks at the 10 a.m. ceremony. At 2 p.m., Divya R. Danda, a junior biochemistry major and 2006 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, will be the marshal for students, and Jessica E. Shay, a junior biology major and 2006 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, will provide remarks as the honor students’ representative.

Jacqueline L. Angel, chair

Appendix C3
2007 Spring Commencement
Message from the President

I invite you to join us for the 124th Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin. Our Commencement ceremony is one of the most uplifting and enjoyable events I have ever experienced. In a festive evening of music, tradition, and spectacular fireworks, our graduating students unite with classmates, family, and friends to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the class of 2007.

For 124 years, UT has represented this state's greatest aspirations and noblest dreams. The University has inspired generations of outstanding students to pursue their ambitions and to make valuable contributions to their communities and to our state and nation.

This is an extraordinary time. A time for Texas. A time for this generation to step forward and become the creative thinkers and leaders of a new era. Because what starts here changes the world.

I congratulate the graduates of 2007 and offer my sincere appreciation to parents, friends, and family members for their roles in shaping the lives of these extraordinary students.

William Powers Jr.
The University of Texas at Austin