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577 degrees conferred at commencement

small nicholsLamar University is scheduled to confer 577 degrees at summer commencement Saturday, Aug. 18, in the Montagne Center. District 3 State Senator Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, will be the keynote speaker. Nichols is a 1968 graduate of LU.
        The ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m. for the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business and Engineering and at 1:30 p.m. for the Colleges of Education and Human Development and Fine Arts and Communication and the Center for General Studies. Graduates hail from nine countries, 18 states outside Texas and 158 cities and towns in Texas.
        Lamar is scheduled to award the 577 degrees to 573 graduation candidates  – nine for doctorates, 362 for master’s degrees; 197 for bachelor’s degrees and nine for associate degrees. The candidates include 269 who will earn master’s degrees in education as part of Lamar’s academic partnership. Four students will earn dual degrees, including one who will receive a master of science and a bachelor of business administration, both in accounting. Three others will earn dual undergraduate degrees. As of Aug. 1, graduation participants numbered 140 in the first ceremony and 192 in the second.
        First elected to the Texas Senate in 2006, Nichols represents 19 counties – including the greater part of East Texas and Montgomery County. He has distinguished himself in business, community service and education, as well as in government.
        Nichols serves as vice chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee and sits on the Transportation and Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Nominations and Natural Resources committees. He is also vice chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission. In 2010, his colleagues selected him to serve as chair of the Senate Republican Caucus.
        During his three sessions as a state senator, Nichols authored important legislation to protect landowners’ rights, increased educational opportunities in East Texas and reformed transportation policies. He was designated as a Top Legislator by Texas Insider and as a Champion of Free Enterprise by the Texas Association of Business.
        Before running for the Senate, Nichols served as a state transportation commissioner for eight years, establishing a reputation for increasing efficiency without compromising quality.
        Nichols is a businessman from Jacksonville, Texas, where he served his hometown as mayor and on city council. He built four successful manufacturing facilities there, earned 32 U.S. patents and created more than 900 jobs for East Texas families.
        Working his way through college by selling fireworks and ironing clothes for other students, Nichols earned a bachelor’s degree from Lamar University in 1968. He married his high school sweetheart, Donna, and they are the parents of three children: Brittney, Joshua and Collyn’rae. He is a member of the First United Methodist Church in Jacksonville.
        Among highlights of the ceremony, President James Simmons will present Plummer Awards, recognizing the top academic graduates. Students graduating summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude with bachelor’s and associate degrees will be recognized as they accept their diplomas. Stephen Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will welcome graduates and guests and certify degree candidates.
        Leading the academic processionals and recessionals will be Jeremy Shelton, associate professor of psychology and president of the Faculty Senate, for the morning program, and Quoc-Nam Tran, professor of computer science and president-elect of the Faculty Senate, for the afternoon program. Paul Hemenway, professor of communication, and Victoria Price, professor of modern languages, will present the graduates in both ceremonies.
        The Lamar Brass Ensemble, conducted by Scott Deppe, director of bands, will perform the processionals, recessionals and musical preludes. Debra Greschner, instructor of music, and Serdar Ilban, assistant professor of music, will lead in singing  “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Lamar Alma Mater Greschner at the morning and Ilban in the afternoon.