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Speakers set for Spring Commencement programs

Commencement speakers representing diverse fields have been chosen to address students at Lamar University’s Spring 2017 commencement ceremonies held May 12 and 13 in the Montagne Center.

Greg Thompson will address graduates and guests during the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony, May 12 at 7 p.m. Thompson attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, began college at Lamar University before graduating with an accounting degree from the University of Texas. He earned his law degree from UT and an MBA from Harvard University. Thompson made partner at Provost Umphrey in two years, where he handled a wide array of legal cases including work on the $17.1 billion dollar tobacco settlement that remains the largest civil settlement in legal history. Board Certified in Plaintiff Injury Trial Law and Civil Appellate Law, he was elected as an advocate member of the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates and holds an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He has also been voted Super Lawyer every year beginning in 2003. As a Master Mediator for the last 15 years, Thompson has settled tens of thousands of cases. As a community leader, Thompson served as co-chair of Lamar University’s first-ever capital campaign that brought back Division I Football, women’s soccer and softball and raised more than $132 million dollars from over 34,000 gifts. Thompson and his wife, Jennifer, have four children: Tyler, Taylor, Trevor and Tristan.

Graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences will also hear from classmate Kelli Creel. A 2013 Nederland High School HS graduate, Creel was a Mirabeau B. Lamar Scholar and member of the Honors Student Association. She will graduate with a BS in biology with a minor in chemistry and has been accepted to the University of Texas School of Dentistry at San Antonio.

Clarence L. Ross, Jr., will address graduates of the College of Engineering and guests during commencement exercises May 13 at 8:30 a.m. Ross is an aerospace engineer and the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Safety and Mission Assurance Quality and Flight Equipment Division Chief. His departments ensure that safety, reliability and quality meet all requirements at JSC, in JSC government furnished equipment, extravehicular activity, JSC payloads, International Space Station, Orion, commercial crew, and advance exploration systems. His mission is to identify, characterize, mitigate and communicate risk by implementing an efficient and effective assurance model that is of value to customers. He graduated from LU in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He has earned the Center Director Commendation Award, Innovation awards for Electronic Data System process implementation, Manned Flight Awareness, Outstanding Service Team Award, Group Achievement Award, Sustain Superior Performance awards, and NASA HQ Commendation for support to USA (Boeing) FEPC contract management. He has developed and implemented international bilateral agreements with Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency and GFE contractors. He was appointed to the ISS Safety Review Panel, where he represented the NA directorate as a voting member. Ross’s extensive leadership training and his skills in safety and quality assurance have allowed him to maintain the quality of JSC. He has been chief of his department since 2013, and he continues to work to improve NASA JSC and the field of aerospace engineering. Ross resides in Pearland Texas with his daughter and son. He is an active member of the Silver Lake Church, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc, Pearland Special Olympics organization and member of the NASA mentoring program.

Graduates of the College of Engineering will also hear from classmate Julie Hammond. She is graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. At LU, Hammond served as president and member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), vice-president of the National Honor Society of Civil Engineers Chi Epsilon, a member of the Student Engineering Council (SEC), and a member of the National Honor Society of Engineers Tau Beta Pi. She is the mother to two teenage sons, Grayson and Jaydon.

Paul Trevino will address graduates and guests at the College of Business commencement May 13 at 11 a.m. in the Montagne Center. Trevino is a seasoned healthcare executive with more than 28 years of healthcare experience in not-for-profit, for profit, and managed care sectors of the healthcare market. As the CEO of the CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System, he is responsible for managing the market portfolio in Southeast Texas representing a $358 million annual budget, 2,136 employees and 380,000 patient encounters annually. Trevino has worked for CHRISTUS Health for 23 years in key executive roles in multiple regions of the organization, focusing on hospital operations, network development, and physician alignment. A native of Corpus Christi, he attended the University of Texas, Corpus Christi State University and St. Mary University, where we obtained a Bachelors of Business Administration and a MBA. He has served on a variety of civic and community boards. He has been married to Kelli Hayes Trevino (a LU alumna) for 30 years and has three children and one new granddaughter. He and his family have spent more than 16 years living in Southeast Texas.

Graduates of the College of Business will also hear from classmate Katie Loftin. She will graduate with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in advertising communications. A native of Saratoga, Loftin graduated West Hardin H.S. in 2013. A Smith-Hutson Scholarship recipient, Loftin has been a Lamar University Ambassador, a member of the Business Dean’s Advisory Council, and LU Advertising Federation. Throughout her college career she has taken at least 15 credit hours a semester and maintained a part- time job.

Gisela Houseman will address graduates and guests at the College of Fine Arts and Communication commencement program, May 13 at 2 p.m. in the Montagne Center. Houseman is the owner and CEO of The Houseman Companies in Orange. A native of Hamburg, Germany, Houseman immigrated to America with her family when she was 6 years old, settling in Oklahoma where her father worked in the dairy business. She became a U.S. citizen in 1956. For 25 years, she used her background in accounting and finance as an insurance professional. In 1987, she and Tony, her husband of 23 years, moved to Southeast Texas and continued the Houseman tradition of home building that had begun in the 1960s. Their work in property development and as master builders can be found across seven Southeast Texas counties, from Galveston Bay to Sabine Lake and points inland, and in five Louisiana parishes. In 2007, she lost her business- and life-partner. Making the transition to being the sole leader of the business wasn’t easy, but she’d never been one to avoid a challenge.  Well-travelled, she has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, joined in the polar plunge in Antarctica, and participated in the pre-race activities of the Iditarod in Alaska. Running the company on her own was a new mountain to climb, but under her leadership it has flourished. Houseman is a proponent of higher education having established scholarships at LU, LSC-Orange and LIT. Her leadership and compassion has been recognized throughout her lifetime by number of organizations. In 1991, Houseman was inducted into the Women’s Conference of Southeast Texas Hall of Fame. She is mother of two and grandmother of four.

Graduates of the College of Fine Arts and Communication will also hear from classmate Tanasha Slack-Olumoya of Fort Worth. A first-generation college graduate and the only Deaf person in her family, she attended Southwest College Institute for the Deaf, where she founded their women’s basketball team and was the first black female to become student body president. In 2013, she transferred to Lamar University to earn a Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language. Active in the Signing Cardinals group, as well a tutor for students learning ASL, she has served as a student assistant in the Department of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. She plans to pursue a Master of Science in Deaf Studies and Deaf Education at Lamar University.

LaTonya Goffney will address graduates and guests at the commencement program for the College of Education and Human Development May 13 at 5 p.m. in the Montagne Center. A native of Coldspring and superintendent of the Lufkin ISD since 2013, Goffney began her career as a language arts teacher in Coldspring-Oakhurst Consolidated Independent School District. Additionally, she served as assistant principal and principal before serving as superintendent at Coldspring-Oakhurst for five years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English, a Master of Education degree in administration, and a Doctorate of Education degree in Educational Leadership, all from Sam Houston State University. She was the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Administrator of the Year Award selected by the faculty of Sam Houston State University College of Education. She was named as one of only 22 members of the 2012-2013 Class of Phi Delta Kappa International Emerging Leaders. The PDK Emerging Leaders program recognizes top educators from across the world.

For more information about graduation and commencement programs at Lamar University, visit For individuals unable to attend the graduations, an online broadcast is available at