Friday, December 02, 2011
Lamar to confer 1,149 degrees Dec. 17,
with State Senator-LU alumnus Brian Birdwell as keynote speaker
BEAUMONT – Lamar University is scheduled to confer 1,149 degrees at winter commencement Saturday, Dec. 17, in the Montagne Center. State Senator Brian Birdwell, a decorated military veteran and graduate of Lamar, will be the keynote speaker.
The ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m. for the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business and Engineering and at 1:30 p.m. for the Colleges of Education and Human Development and Fine Arts and Communication and the Center for General Studies.
Graduates hail from 10 countries, 24 states outside Texas and 246 cities and towns in Texas.
Lamar is scheduled to award the 1,149 degrees to 1,144 graduation candidates – three for doctorates; 642 for master’s degrees; 495 for bachelor’s degrees, five with dual degrees; and four for associate’s degrees. The candidates include 486 who will earn master’s degrees in education as part of Lamar’s academic partnership. As of Nov. 29, graduation participants numbered 401 in the first ceremony and 364 in the second.
President James Simmons will present the Plummer Awards, recognizing the top academic graduates. Students graduating summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude with bachelor’s and associate degrees will be recognized as they accept their diplomas. Stephen Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will certify degree candidates.
Leading the academic processionals and recessionals will be Jeremy Shelton, associate professor of psychology and president of the Faculty Senate. Paul Hemenway, professor of communication, and Victoria Price, professor of modern languages, will present the graduates in both ceremonies.
The Lamar University Band, conducted by Scott Deppe, director of bands, will perform the processionals, recessionals and musical preludes.
Debra Greschner, instructor of music, and Serdar Ilban, visiting assistant professor of music, will lead in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Lamar Alma Mater – Greschner at the morning and Ilban in the afternoon.
Retired Lt. Col. Birdwell is a native Texan, decorated military veteran and lifelong Republican, now representing District 22 in the Texas Senate. A distinguished military graduate of Lamar, Birdwell earned a bachelor of science in criminal justice in 1984.
He was first commissioned as a field artillery officer in the U.S. Army, then served in many locations around the world, including South Korea, Germany, Central America and from coast to coast in the United States.
At the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Birdwell was serving as a military aide in the Pentagon. When American Airlines Flight 77 was crashed into the Pentagon, Birdwell was critically wounded and severely burned. He underwent 39 separate operations and was awarded the Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained. Upon his retirement from the Army, Birdwell was awarded the Legion of Merit.
Birdwell, R-Granbury, serves as vice-chairman of both the Higher Education and Veteran Affairs committees and is a member of the Economic Development and Government Organization committees. He also serves as chairman of the Veterans’ Caucus. Birdwell’s district covers 10 Central and North Texas counties: Bosque, Coryell, Ellis, Falls, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan, Navarro and Somervell.
He and his wife, Mel, live in Granbury, where they operate Face the Fire Ministries, a non-profit organization that assists and encourages critical burn survivors and wounded servicemen and women.