May 8, 2012

Commencement Convocation Set For Thursday, Prelude To Graduating 7,300 Aggies

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp will help kick off Texas A&M University’s spring graduation festivities as the speaker for the Thursday (May 10) commencement convocation. That event serves as the prelude to five graduation ceremonies over the following two days highlighted by the awarding of more than 7,300 degrees — representing another record graduating class.

graduation exercises at Reed Arena

The university is scheduled to award 6,921 degrees during the five Reed Arena ceremonies

Those five ceremonies will be held at Reed Arena beginning at 9 a.m. Friday and concluding with a 2 p.m. graduation exercise that will include the commissioning of approximately 85 members of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets into the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps.

Commencement convocation is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Rudder Auditorium, but Texas A&M’s graduation festivities actually begin in that facility  at 2 p.m. when the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences awards Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degrees to 128 new veterinarians. The speaker for the ceremonies at which those professional degrees are to be awarded will be Dr. Deborah T. Kochevar, dean of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Commencement convocation and all graduation ceremonies are open to the public, officials note.

The university is scheduled to award 6,921 undergraduate or graduate degrees during the five Reed Arena ceremonies. Additionally, 212 degrees are expected to be awarded at its marine-oriented branch campus, Texas A&M University at Galveston, and 78 at its engineering-oriented branch campus, Texas A&M University at Qatar.

The commencement speaker for the Galveston campus will be James T. Hackett, chairman and CEO of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. The Galveston commencement exercises are set for 9 a.m. Saturday at the Galveston Island Convention Center.

Texas A&M Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Karan Watson will present greetings at the commencement ceremonies at the Qatar campus. Those ceremonies are set for Thursday at the Qatar National Convention Center.

Commencement convocation is a relatively new Texas A&M main campus tradition in which all members of a graduating class have the opportunity to assemble together, along with family members and friends, in an informal setting.

In announcing his selection of Chancellor Sharp as the spring commencement convocation speaker, Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin cited Sharp’s decades of public service and long-standing association with his alma mater.

“Chancellor Sharp comes to us after a long and distinguished public service career, having served effectively in both  houses of the Texas  Legislature and then winning two statewide elections, the latter as state comptroller — and obviously having had a positive impact in every endeavor that he has undertaken,” Loftin said. “He started that record of accomplishment right here at Texas A&M, where, in addition to his studies, he served in the Corps of Cadets and was elected student body president during his senior year. He is now applying his vast experience in helping elevate all of the universities and agencies in the Texas A&M System — and striving to help make higher education attainable for more Texans.

“With that stellar record and on-going passion for service, I am confident that he will bring a meaningful message to our degree candidates, their families and friends,” Loftin added.

Chancellor Sharp received a political science degree from Texas A&M in 1972 and was president of the student body and a member of the Corps of Cadets. He assumed his present position last fall. He previously was a principal in Ryan & Company, the largest state and local tax consulting firm of its kind in Texas.

Sharp’s public service career dates back three decades. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1978, won a seat in the Texas Senate in 1982 and was elected to a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission in 1986. Sharp was elected state comptroller in 1990 and reelected in 1994. When he assumed that office, he quickly began working to fulfill his pledge to “make government work more like our most successful businesses.”

Eight years later, Sharp was credited with reinventing Texas state government and turning it into a high-quality, low-cost customer service operation that has saved taxpayers billions, helped avert a state income tax and served as a model around the world.

As part of Texas A&M’s graduation festivities, The Association of Former Students will host its Next Tradition program in conjunction with the university’s graduation ceremonies. The program, designed to introduce new graduates to the alumni organization and its varied activities, will be conducted at the Clayton Williams, Jr. Alumni Center before and after commencement convocation and from 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Friday and from 11:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday.

Registrar officials say the number of main campus degree candidates — undergraduates and graduate students — in the spring 2012 class will be almost 350 more than last spring when the current record of 6,593 was set. The precise number of graduates will not be determined until later in this week, they note.

The expected number of graduates at Galveston and Qatar also are expected to be records, with those two branches campuses awarding 121 and 52 degrees, respectively, last spring.

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Media contact: Lane Stephenson, News & Information Services at (979) 845-4662

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