Laura Bush

Celebrating Commencement 2009

Commencement 2008 banner line-up

SMU observes its 94th Commencement May 15-16 with events for students, faculty, alumni and the entire community.

Former First Lady and current SMU Trustee Laura Bush (’68) will speak at the all-University ceremony at 9:30 a.m. May 16 in Moody Coliseum. The University expects to award nearly 2,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.

Some major events at a glance:

May 15-16 – Class of 1959 golden reunion
May 15 – Honorary Degree Symposia honoring Harold W. Attridge, Arthur Mitchell and Alexander McCall Smith
May 15 – Baccalaureate and Rotunda Recessional
May 16 – Faculty Breakfast and Distinguished University Citizen Awards presentation
May 16 – All-University Commencement
May 16 – School diploma presentations

Find more information at the Registrar’s Commencement 2009 website.

Read more about Laura Bush
Find times and locations for the 2009 Honorary Degree Symposia
Get a preview of the University’s new academic regalia

Three to receive honorary degrees at Commencement 2009

Best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith, Yale Divinity School Dean Harold W. Attridge and Dance Theater of Harlem co-founder Arthur Mitchell will receive honorary degrees at SMU’s 94th Commencement ceremony at 9:30 a.m. May 16 in Moody Coliseum. Former First Lady Laura Bush (’68) will deliver the Commencement address.

Theologian and academic leader Harold W. Attridge will receive the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Law professor and best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith will receive the honorary Doctor or Humane Letters. Dancer, choreographer and educator Arthur Mitchell will receive the honorary Doctor of Arts degree.

“The conferring of honorary degrees is an important part of the Commencement tradition, and we are pleased to recognize three distinguished individuals who have made unique contributions to varied fields of endeavor,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Their achievements help our young graduates to appreciate the breadth of opportunity possible for their own futures as a result of their education.”

Harold AttridgeHarold W. Attridge, an internationally respected scholar of early Christianity, currently serves at Yale Divinity School as dean and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament. After receiving his A.B. degree from Boston College, he earned two degrees at Cambridge University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He served on the faculty of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology from 1977 to 1985. He then joined the University of Notre Dame, where he was professor of New Testament and later dean of the College of Arts and Letters. He joined the Yale faculty in 1997 and became dean of the Divinity School in 2002.

Attridge’s research has contributed significantly to understanding of the intellectual and religious environment in which Christianity arose. His books include a landmark commentary on the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews.

Alexander McCall SmithAlexander McCall Smith has excelled in two diverse careers, as legal scholar and fiction writer. He earned a law degree and Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, where he has led a distinguished career as professor of medical law. He has been a visiting professor at law schools in Europe and the United States, including twice at SMU’s Dedman School of Law, in the late 1980s and in fall 1998. An international authority on biomedical ethics, he has served on the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO.

Professor McCall Smith is most widely known, however, as a best-selling author. His mystery series on The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and been translated into more than 40 languages. The series has been adapted for radio, television and feature film.

Professor McCall Smith has strong connections with faculty in SMU’s Dedman School of Law. He co-authored a professional book with Professor Daniel W. Shuman and dedicated a book in the Isabel Dalhousie Sunday Philosophy Club series to Professor Shuman. Professor McCall Smith dedicated the first book in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series to Professor Joseph W. McKnight and his wife, Mimi, and featured the McKnights as characters in one of the Dalhousie books.

Arthur MitchellArthur Mitchell is a pivotal figure in the world of dance, as well as an agent for social change. He is co-founder and artistic director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, a multicultural ballet company of international renown that has broken barriers around the world. After studying at the School of American Ballet, Mitchell became the first African-American male to be a permanent member and principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, he resolved to provide opportunities for the children of Harlem and co-founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Over the years, Mitchell and his dancers have served as cultural ambassadors and received worldwide acclaim. He also helped develop Dancing Through Barriers®, a national and international education and community outreach program that introduces young people to dance.

SMU expects to award nearly 2,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees to students at the University-wide Commencement ceremony. The University’s schools and departments will hold individual diploma ceremonies throughout the day.

Former First Lady Laura Bush to deliver 94th Commencement address

Laura BushFormer First Lady Laura Bush will return to her alma mater May 16 to deliver the address at SMU’s 94th Commencement ceremony. SMU expects to award nearly 2,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the University-wide ceremony, starting at 9:30 a.m. in Moody Coliseum.

Mrs. Bush earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from SMU in 1968.

“With her life-long dedication to education and the global insights she has gained from her years as First Lady, Mrs. Bush will offer a unique perspective to our graduates. At the same time, she brings a shared memory of her own graduation from the University,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are pleased to welcome her back to campus for this important academic tradition.”

Mrs. Bush is actively involved in national and global issues, with an emphasis on education, health care and human rights. As First Lady, she made a historic trip to Afghanistan in 2005 to witness the progress achieved by the Afghan people after the fall of the Taliban regime. She visited the Women’s Teacher Training Institute in Kabul, which is preparing women to lead classrooms that girls were once forbidden to enter. Mrs. Bush’s involvement in Afghanistan began in 2001, when she delivered a weekly radio address to call attention to the plight of women and children suffering under the Taliban.

A former teacher and librarian, Mrs. Bush in 2001 convened a Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development, a forum for scholars and educators to share research on preparing children for lifelong learning. She led former President George W. Bush’s Helping America’s Youth initiative and remains an enthusiastic proponent of teacher recruitment programs such as Teach for America, The New Teacher Project and Troops to Teachers.

A long-time proponent of literacy programs, Mrs. Bush joined with the Library of Congress in September 2001 to launch the first National Book Festival. As First Lady of Texas in 1995, Mrs. Bush established the Texas Book Festival, which continues to thrive. In 2006, Mrs. Bush hosted leaders from around the world for the White House Conference on Advancing Global Literacy, showcasing literacy programs from diverse countries. Her leadership of this effort led to her current role as Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade.

As an advocate for women’s health, Mrs. Bush has been an active participant in campaigns to raise awareness of breast cancer and heart disease, both in the United States and globally in such countries as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Panama.

At SMU, the achievements of Mrs. Bush are recognized through the Laura Bush Promenade, a garden and seating area outside Fondren Library Center. The promenade was contributed in 1999 by then Governor George W. Bush to honor his wife’s contributions to libraries and literature. In 1999 Mrs. Bush received SMU’s Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition to numerous national awards, in 2008 she was honored in Dallas with the Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award of the Methodist Health System Foundation.

A native of Midland, Texas, Laura Bush grew up loving books and wanting to share her passion for literature with others. She taught in public schools in Dallas, Houston and Austin and worked as a public school librarian. In 1977, she met and married George Walker Bush. They are the parents of twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna.

“As a graduating senior, I cannot think of anyone I would rather have speak at my commencement ceremony,” said Lamar Dowling, student member of the SMU Board of Trustees. “Over the past eight years of serving our country, Mrs. Bush has gained experiences around the nation and globe that have provided her much wisdom to share. As an SMU alumna, she has a variety of accomplishments to show the infinite possibilities that an SMU education can provide.”

After the University-wide Commencement, SMU’s schools and departments will hold individual ceremonies throughout the day to honor graduates. SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students in seven degree-granting colleges.

New look for Laura Bush Promenade

Laura Bush Promenade celebration at SMUSMU celebrated the completion of a new landscape for the Laura Bush Promenade in February 2009. The Promenade, a garden and seating area that intersects the University’s Fondren Library Center, was given in 1999 by then-Governor George W. Bush as a tribute to his wife’s contributions to literacy and libraries. Mrs. Bush (’68), the recipient of the 2008 Methodist Health System Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award, was surprised at the award ceremony with the announcement that the planting at the Promenade would be renovated courtesy of Lambert Landscape Company. Left to right, R. Gerald Turner, SMU president; April Box Chamberlain, president and CEO, Methodist Health System Foundation; Paul Fields, president and director of design, Lambert Landscape Company; Susan Byerly Nowlin (’67), co-chair, Folsom Leadership Award dinner; Carl Sewell (’66), chairman, SMU Board of Trustees; and Jim Koons, SMU associate vice president for campus planning and plant operations.

Tune In: Immigration documentary features anthropology professor

Laura Bush with Jose BowenVan Kemper, Anthropology, was interviewed and served as a principal consultant for a 5-part radio documentary, “A Village Away From Home: Seattle’s Purepecha Community,” produced by KUOW 94.9 FM in Seattle. Listen online. audio

First Lady and SMU trustee Laura Bush (’68, right, with Meadows Dean José Bowen) received the 2008 Robert S. Folsom Leadership Award for community service, presented annually by the Methodist Health System Foundation. Meadows students provided entertainment at the April ceremonies. See a slide show. slide show

By | 2008-05-01T11:01:33+00:00 May 1, 2008|Categories: Tune In|Tags: , , , , |
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