Another record spring graduating class for Texas A&M University is expected this week, with more than 7,250 students scheduled to receive diplomas in ceremonies beginning Thursday and continuing through Saturday.
The expected record number of graduates—approximately 100 more than last year—includes about 1,450 receiving master’s or doctoral degrees and 133 receiving Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees. Representatives of the registrar’s office note the figures typically change slightly during the final days leading up to graduation.
The figures are for the main campus ceremonies. Separate ceremonies are set for Texas A&M University at Galveston, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Texas A&M University School of Law and various units within the Texas A&M University Health Science Center. Not all the figures for those entities are currently available, but officials note they will increase the total for the university by several hundred.
The marine-oriented branch campus in Galveston is scheduled to award degrees Saturday to more than 200, which would be a spring-semester record. The engineering-oriented branch campus to Doha, Qatar, is expected to exceed 100 this spring during Thursday ceremonies and bring the total for the relatively new institution up to more than 500. The law school, which will hold its graduation ceremonies May 16, is projected to award diplomas to more than 175 degree candidates. The Health Science Center also will be holding ceremonies for its various units later, with graduation totals yet to be determined.
Campus activities begin at 2 p.m. Thursday with the veterinarians receiving their degrees in Rudder Auditorium. The number of D.V.M. degrees being awarded this spring is the highest in recent years—four more than for last year. Texas A&M is the only university in Texas to provide a veterinary medicine degree program.
Commencement convocation, featuring an address by Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples, a 1984 Texas A&M graduate, is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, also in Rudder Auditorium.
Commencement convocation is a relatively new Texas A&M 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.
To accommodate the undergraduate and graduate candidates and their families and friends, the university will conduct six commencement exercises in Reed Arena Friday and Saturday—at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day—with the degree candidates set to receive their degrees on a schedule aligned by the academic colleges with which they are affiliated.
Commencement convocation, graduation exercises and the commissioning ceremonies are open to the public, university officials noted, but pointed out that tickets are required for the ceremonies for the College of Liberal Arts, the Dwight Look College of Engineering and Mays Business School because of exceptionally large crowds expected for those ceremonies. The tickets are free and each degree candidate in those programs has been allocated six.
Additionally, two honorary doctoral degrees will be awarded. The recipients are Judea Pearl, known internationally for his contributions to artificial intelligence, human reasoning and philosophy of science, and to former student Clarence E. Sasser, a recipient of the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. Sasser will receive his degree at the 9 a.m. Friday ceremony, and Pearl will be presented his degree at the 7 p.m. ceremony that evening. Honorary degrees are conferred only after concurrence by the administration, the Faculty Senate and The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
Commissioning ceremonies for a projected 105 graduating members of the Corps of Cadets entering one of the four branches of the armed services will be held in conjunction with the 9 a.m. commencement exercises Saturday. That would be the most commissions awarded through the Corps of Cadets in recent years. If the anticipated number of commission holds firm, it would represent an increase of 27 compared to last spring—an increase of approximately 25 percent.
Continuing a tradition initiated two years ago in acknowledgment of the university’s commitment to honoring veterans, all graduates who have prior military service will be given special commemorative red, white and blue cords to wear as part of their academic regalia. Their cords will be available at a reception for all active duty and veteran Aggies on Wednesday (May 7) from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. in Stark Galleries.
Texas A&M’s top student awards for graduating seniors—the Brown Foundation-Earl Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Award and the Robert Gates-Muller Family Outstanding Student Award—will be presented during the ceremonies at which the recipients receive their diplomas. Identities of the three students will not be revealed until their names are announced and they are invited to come forward to receive their citations and cash awards.
The Inspiration Award for Exceptional Secondary Education will be presented to Rita Hines, a math teacher at Science and Engineering Magnet School in Dallas, and Richard Lazarou, a geography and sociology teacher at Willow Ridge High School in Houston. Each teacher was nominated for the award by a former student who will graduate during the Saturday (May 10) commencement ceremonies. Hines’ award will be presented at 9 a.m. and Lazarou’s at the 2 p.m. ceremony. Recipients of the award are given the opportunity to present the diplomas to the students who nominated them. They also receive personal stipends and cash awards for their schools. Both students will be receiving their degrees from the College of Liberal Arts.
The Association of Former Students will continue its “Next Tradition” program in which it offers new graduates a “drive-thru” opportunity to have representative decals placed on their vehicles and, joined by family members, attend come-and-go open houses at the Clayton Williams Jr. Alumni Center. The “drive-thru” will be held from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday and the open houses will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Media contact: Lane Stephenson, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4662