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Commencement and Academic Ceremonies Committee

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.

Committee Members
Appointed members: Laura Lein, Yolanda C. Padilla (chair), Cynthia S. Salinas (vice-chair), Harovel G. Wheat
Faculty Council appointees: Molly E. Cummings, Kevin N. Foster
Staff: Jennifer L. McAndrew, Peggy N. Mueller
Students: Christine Achico, Ladan Agharokh, Dina K. Schaefer
Administrative adivser: Susan W. Clagett, John M. Graham, Jerry F. Junkin, Susan Kessler, Michael A. Miller, Soncia R. Reagins-Lilly

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 2008 University-wide commencement speaker. The committee forwarded suggestions of commencement speakers to the president’s office, which were added to the existing list maintained by the Office of Relationship Management and University Events. No fall graduate student commencement exercises were held this academic year.

The committee held a second meeting on April 7, 2008, to advise the Faculty Council and the Office of the President on policy matters related to Honors Day and 2008 Commencement Exercises.

The following issues were addressed at the spring semester meeting:
  • Commencement Theme. The theme for the May 2008 Commencement is “World Talent, Texas Tradition” as noted in President Powers’ Commencement message (Appendix C3).
  • University-wide Speaker. Jody Conradt, former UT women’s basketball coach and former director of women’s athletics at UT, will be the Commencement speaker.
  • Marshal. Dr. Jacqueline Angel (former chair of the Commencement and Academic Ceremonies Committee) will serve as marshal in the absence of Dr. Padilla.
  • Special Issues. Among the special considerations this year will be:
    –Continuing efforts to maintain faculty participation at 15%.
    –Assistance with identifying volunteers for ceremonies.
Electing a New Chair. After an email poll the committee re-elected Dr. Yolanda Padilla, professor of social work, as chair of the committee in 2008-09; in this capacity, Dr. Padilla will also serve as University Marshal and will preside at the University-wide academic ceremonies in the coming academic year.

Honors Day. The 60th Annual Honors Day recognizing College Scholars and Distinguished College Scholars was held on April 12, 2008, at the Gregory Gymnasium. This year, 4,997 students were given the honorary title of College Scholar and 1,413 were recognized as Distinguished College Scholars. Two University-wide ceremonies were 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. The committee held two meetings during the year, in addition to having extensive e-mail correspondence among members. The two meetings were held on September 14, 2007, and February 23, 2008.

Roderick P. Hart, dean of the College of Communication, delivered the convocation address at both ceremonies. Dean Hart holds the Allan B. Shivers Chair in Communication and Government and the Walter Cronkite Regents Chair in Communication. Lauren R. Koehler, a junior in Plan II Honors student and 2007 Harry S. Truman Scholar, provided remarks as the honor students' representative in the morning ceremony. Dhananjay Jagannathan, a senior in Plan II Honors, philosophy, and classics and nominee for the 2008 Beinecke Memorial Scholarship served as student marshal for the procession. Sarah H. Miller, a senior in physics and astronomy honors and 2008 Rhodes Scholar, provided remarks as the honor students' representative in the afternoon ceremony. Yuxuan Wang, a senior in biochemistry honors and 2007 Goldwater Scholar served as student marshal for the procession.

Dr. Padilla and Dr. Terri Givens served as University Marshals for the ceremony.

Yolanda Padilla, chair

Appendix C3

2008 Commencement Message from the President

World Talent, Texas Tradition
I invite you to join us for the 125th 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 2008.

For 125 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, our nation, and beyond.

Here at UT, students and faculty from Texas and 49 other states and from more than 100 countries constitute a world of talent. And we pursue excellence in our own unique way – in the Texas tradition.

I congratulate the graduates of 2008 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., President
The University of Texas at Austin

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