LU News Archive

Lamar confers 1355 degrees; Mehaffy keynote speaker

MehaffeyLamar University conferred 1355 degrees during fall commencement exercises December 13.  George L. Mehaffy, Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in Washington, D.C., was the keynote speaker.  Beginning this commencement ceremony, Lamar University joined many of its fellow universities and inaugurated a two-phase commencement format.

The first, termed the University Commencement Ceremony, was open to all degree candidates, their guests, the faculty and staff.  It included all traditional commencement activities except the actual distribution of diplomas.  The University Commencement Ceremony included an address by Penny Finch, a master of education major from Prosser, Washington.  Finch was specially selected as the student commencement speaker.  During this ceremony, President Evans awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters degree to three LU alumni and/or supporters; Regina Rogers, Hermann Ortega and Will Crenshaw.

The second, termed the College Conferment Ceremony, graduating students’ names were called and diplomas were distributed at a ceremony hosted by the college associated with the students’ various majors. Along with undergraduates, both masters and doctoral students attended the ceremony at their disciplinary college. 

Graduates hail from 13 countries, 27 states outside Texas and 283 cities and towns in Texas. Lamar will award 1355 degrees to 1352 graduation candidates – 35 for doctorates; 761 for master’s degrees and 559 for bachelor’s degrees.  Doctorates include 20 in educational leadership, seven doctor of engineering, four doctor of education in deaf studies and four doctor of philosophy in chemical engineering.

Two students will earn two bachelor’s degrees; one with a Bachelor of Business Administration in management and a Bachelor of Business Administration in human resource management.  The other will earn Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science and mathematics. One student will earn two master’s degrees, a Master of Science in computer science and Master of Business Administration.  The master’s candidates include 620 students who will earn degrees in education as part of Lamar’s online education program.

George L. Mehaffy serves as the Vice President for Academic Leadership and Change at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in Washington, D.C., a higher education association representing 420 public colleges and universities and their 3.8 million students.  His division is responsible for developing and managing programs for member institutions in areas such as organizational change, civic engagement, leadership development, undergraduate education, technology, international education and teacher education. 

He works closely with university presidents and chief academic officers on a variety of national initiatives.  Each year, his division organizes a number of conferences, including two national conferences each year for AASCU chief academic officers.  He has directed a series of innovative projects, including international programs with China and Liberia; a technology transformation annual conference with EDUCAUSE and the University of Central Florida; and two major national studies of student success. 

In 2003, Mehaffy launched the American Democracy Project, a civic engagement initiative involving 240 colleges and universities, in partnership with The New York Times.  Most recently, he organized the Red Balloon Project, a national initiative to transform undergraduate education. Before coming to AASCU, he had more than twenty years of teaching and administrative experience in higher education in Texas, New Mexico, and California.  In addition to his work in higher education, he served for 33 years in the United States Coast Guard Reserve, retiring as a Captain (0-6) in 2000.  

The ceremony began as Lula Henry, associate professor of professional pedagogy and president of the Faculty Senate, led the academic processional.  The Lamar Wind Ensemble, conducted by Scott Deppe, director of bands, performed the processional, recessional and musical prelude. Robin Smith, instructor of voice, led in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Lamar Alma Mater.