SMU observes its 98th Commencement May 17-18 with events for students, faculty, alumni and the entire community.
Former U.S. Senator from Texas Kay Bailey Hutchison will speak at the all-University ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 18, to be held on the University’s historic Main Quad. She will also receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from the University in recognition of her distinguished career in public service and support of higher education, especially in the areas of science and engineering. SMU expects to award approximately 1,500 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees.
The ceremony will be simulcast live at smu.edu/live.
In 1993, Hutchison became the first woman to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. She was re-elected three times. She also joined Margaret Chase Smith as one of only two women in Senate history to be elected to Republican leadership. As Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, she was the fourth-highest ranking Republican senator.
Hutchison served as the Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice and Science. She also chaired the Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee and served on Defense Appropriations for 16 years.
Throughout her career in the U.S. Senate, Hutchison worked to improve and expand higher education opportunities for students. She has championed advancements in science, technology, engineering and math education and helped thousands of Texans earn college degrees who could not have otherwise gained access to higher education. Through her efforts, research at Texas universities has grown to make the state among the top three for university research in the nation.
Hutchison’s efforts also helped bring more than $20 million in federal funds for research projects to SMU. Some of the projects that have been funded through her efforts include the Infinity Project, a math- and science-based engineering and technology education initiative; various NASA and national defense projects; high-tech visual equipment development; and biotechnology projects. In addition to science, technology, engineering and math projects, Hutchison has established the Ray and Kay Bailey Hutchison Scholarship at SMU’s Dedman School of Law and the Hutchison Legal Resource Learning Center.
The University will also confer honorary degrees upon four other individuals in recognition of distinguished contributions in their fields:
- James Robert (Bob) Biard will receive the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, for his outstanding contributions in the field of optoelectronics. Biard received the world’s first patent for the light-emitting diode (LED) during his career with Texas Instruments.
- Swanee Hunt will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for her efforts toward world peace and gender parity. Hunt, former U.S. ambassador to Austria, is founder and president of the Institute for Inclusive Security, which trains women peace builders around the globe.
- Francis Christopher Oakley will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for his distinguished contributions to higher education as a scholar and administrator. Oakley is the Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas and president emeritus of Williams College, where he led establishment of the tutorial form of instruction.
- Bryan A. Stevenson will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, for his efforts to achieve social equity through criminal justice reform. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair treatment in the legal system.
In addition, nine retiring faculty members will be recognized during Saturday’s Commencement Convocation:
- William Beauchamp, associate professor of French, Dedman College
- David Blackwell, William B. Hamilton Chair in Earth Sciences, Dedman College
- Robert C. Davis, associate professor of mathematics, Dedman College
- Margaret (Maggie) H. Dunham, professor of computer science and engineering, Lyle School of Engineering
- Charles (Charley) Helfert, associate professor of theatre, Meadows School of the Arts
- Robin W. Lovin, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics and former dean of Perkins School of Theology
- Bijan Mohraz, professor of civil and environmental engineering, Lyle School of Engineering.
- Laurence (Larry) Scholder, professor of art, Meadows School of the Arts
- Linda Brewster Stearns, professor of sociology, Dedman College
The weekend’s activities include the Baccalaureate service Friday, May 17, in McFarlin Auditorium. The service will be followed by Rotunda Recessional, a tradition in which seniors march through the Rotunda of Dallas Hall, marking the end of their undergraduate years and the beginning of their lifelong association with SMU as alumni.
Some major events at a glance:
- May 17 – Free public symposium honoring Doctor of Science honoris causa recipient Bob Biard, 11 a.m., Huitt-Zollars Seminar Room, Embrey Engineering Building
- May 17 – Free public symposium honoring Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa recipient Francis Oakley, 1:30 p.m., Texana Room, DeGolyer Library
- May 17-18 – Class of 1963 Golden Reunion, various times and locations
- May 17 – Baccalaureate service for undergraduates with SMU Trustee and United Methodist Bishop Michael McKee delivering the featured speech, followed by Rotunda Recessional, 8 p.m., McFarlin Auditorium
- May 18 – Faculty Breakfast and Distinguished University Citizen Awards presentation, 7:45 a.m., The Varsity, Hughes-Trigg Student Center (RSVP online for the Faculty Breakfast and processional)
- May 18 – All-University Commencement, 9 a.m., Main Quad
- May 18 – Commencement Buffet Luncheon, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., RFoC @ Lee, Umphrey Lee Center
- May 18 – School diploma presentations, various times and locations
(Above, photo from Baccalaureate 2012 by Guy Rogers III.)