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TSUS chancellor to keynote winter commencement

Lamar University is scheduled to confer 1,048 degrees at winter commencement Dec. 18 in the Montagne Center. Lamar will conduct two ceremonies to accommodate the large number of graduates – a procedure that began in December 2009.  Brian McCall, chancellor of the The Texas State University System, 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 2 p.m. for the Colleges of Education and Human Development and Fine Arts and Communication and the Center for General Studies. Graduates hail from 11 countries, 20 states outside Texas and 216 cities and towns in Texas.

Lamar is scheduled to confer 1,048 degrees to 1,042 graduation candidates – four for doctorates; 616 for master’s degrees, one of whom will earn two degrees; and 428 for bachelor’s degrees, five of whom will earn two degrees each. The degrees include two doctors of engineering and two doctors of philosophy in chemical engineering.

President James Simmons will present Plummer Awards, recognizing the top academic graduates. Students graduating summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude will be recognized as they accept their diplomas. Steve Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will certify degree candidates.

Both ceremonies will begin as Jeremy Shelton, associate professor of psychology and vice president of the Faculty Senate, leads academic processionals. He will conclude both programs by leading the recessionals.Paul Hemenway, professor of communication, and Victoria Price, professor of modern languages (retired) will present the graduates in both ceremonies.

The Lamar Chamber Brass, conducted by Brian Shook, assistant professor of music, will perform the processionals, recessionals and musical preludes. Two faculty members will lead in singing  “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Lamar Alma Mater: Kerry Jennings, assistant professor of voice, in the morning, and Debra Greschner, instructor of music, in the afternoon.

As chancellor of The Texas State University System, McCall is the top executive of the oldest and third-largest university system in Texas. With more than 72,000 students and 15,000 faculty and staff, the system comprises eight institutions – including Lamar University.

When TSUS regents appointed McCall in April 2010 to serve as chancellor, they turned to a legislative leader with a solid track record of accomplishments. North Dallas voters had elected him in 1991 to serve in the Texas House of Representatives, where he chaired the House Calendars Committee and was a member of the Higher Education Committee. Texas Monthly magazine named him one of the 10 Best Legislators of the 2009 session.

McCall wrote and passed one of the largest tax-cut bills in the history of Texas and, during his last session, secured special funding for the University of Texas at Dallas’ Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology. Other legislative accomplishments include authoring and passing key bills in the areas of health care, biotechnology, technological innovations, identify theft, and tax and budget policy.

Previously, McCall served as president of Westminster Capital Corp., an investment firm focused on acquisitions primarily in software and technology.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, a master’s from Southern Methodist University, spent a year as a visiting post-graduate student at Oxford University and earned a doctor of philosophy from the University of Texas at Dallas. He is the author of Power and the Texas Governor: Connally to Bush, published by the University of Texas Press in 2009.

A longtime civic and community volunteer, McCall is founder and chairman of the board of The Empowerment Project, a non-profit organization that has sent more than $10 million worth of math and science books to disadvantaged schools in the Republic of South Africa and helped construct a library in Vietnam through the Libraries of Love organization.

In 2011, the Texas State University System will celebrate 100 years of educational excellence and service to the people of Texas. With McCall at the helm, special projects are underway to commemorate this milestone.