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Lamar to confer more than 1,200 degrees Dec. 15

Lamar University is scheduled to confer 1,209 degrees at fall commencement Saturday, Dec. 15, in the Montagne Center. Community activist Regina Rogers will be the keynote speaker.rogers

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 10 countries, 18 states outside Texas and 261 cities and towns in Texas.

During the morning ceremony, Lamar will present the honorary doctor of humane letters to Larry Wayne Lawson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of eCardio Diagnostics, based in Houston. Lawson attended Lamar from 1963 through 1967, enjoying a successful career in music before going into the health care field 42 years ago.

Lamar is scheduled to award the 1,209 degrees to 1,199 graduation candidates  – nine for doctorates; 670 for master’s degrees; 529 for bachelor’s degrees, 10 of  whom will earn two degrees each; and one for an associate degree. One student will receive both a bachelor of business administration and a master of science in accounting. The master’s candidates include 545 who will earn degrees in education as part of Lamar’s academic partnership.

The class will include the first 260 graduates to earn the master of education in school counseling.  About 1,000 are currently enrolled in the 18-month program.

Keynote speaker Rogers touches lives across Southeast Texas as she carries on the community-enriching tradition of her parents, the late Julie and Ben Rogers. Nowhere is her impact – and that of her family – more profound than at Lamar University, where Rogers currently serves as a member of the Investing In The Future Campaign Cabinet. Their contributions to Lamar are legendary, including the Ben J. Rogers Chair in Entrepreneurship, which family members established in the College of Business in 2008.  She continues to perpetuate programs established by her parents, including the Julie and Ben Rogers Community Service Award and Ben J. Rogers Outstanding Business Student Award.

She divides her time between philanthropic endeavors in Houston and Southeast Texas, where she directs the activities of the three nonprofit organizations she helped establish to provide services for the economically disadvantaged: the “I Have a Dream” program, which has made available mentoring, tutoring and college scholarships for nearly 400 at-risk students; the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” cancer-prevention and awareness program, which has helped save hundreds of lives by providing extensive education and breast and prostate cancer screenings, as well as access to treatment for medically underserved individuals in seven Southeast Texas counties; and IEA – Inspire, Encourage, Achieve – which has impacted thousands of youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

Rogers is president of the Joe Louis International Sports Foundation and on the boards of the Southeast Texas Emergency Relief Fund, which she helped create to provide assistance to individuals impacted by hurricanes and other natural disasters; Babe Didrikson Zaharias Foundation; William A. Lawson Institute for Peace and Prosperity; Harris Health System Foundation; Anti-Defamation League, serving as a past chair and having helped establish its Coalition for Mutual Respect; Children’s Defense Fund Texas; Holocaust Museum Houston; and MD Anderson Cancer Center, where she is a senior member of  the Board of Visitors and she and her family have been involved for 52 years.

She was the first female regent of the former Lamar University System, stepping down from that position to accept an appointment to the Texas College and University System Coordinating Board. Rogers earned her bachelor of arts in psychology from Newcomb College at Tulane University and doctor of jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law Center.

Rogers’ motto is “helping the least, the last, the lost and the lonely” members of society. Honored as a distinguished alumna of the University of Houston, she was also named a Hero for Children by the Texas Board of Education; a Child Advocate of the Year by CASA of Southeast Texas; Newsmaker of the Year by the Press Club of Southeast Texas; Citizen of the Year by the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission; and  a Woman of Distinction by KTRK-Channel 13 in Houston. She has also been a recipient of the Humanitarian Award from Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Beaumont, Capital One’s Community Spotlight Award and the Cherish Our Children Award from the Child Abuse Prevention Network in Houston.

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. Steve Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will certify degree candidates.

Both ceremonies will begin as Quoc-Nam Tran, professor of computer science and 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, 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. Serdar Ilban, assistant professor of music, will lead in singing  “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Lamar Alma Mater.