Baylor University Celebrates Record Spring Commencement

May 16, 2008

Media contact: Paige Patton
Baylor University Media Communications
(254) 710-3321 or

Baylor University will celebrate its annual commencement with a weekend of events Friday, May 16, and Saturday, May 17. More than 1,900 students - the largest number of graduates in Baylor's 163-year history - will participate in commencement exercises, which have taken place annually since 1854. To date, Baylor has produced more than 135,000 graduates.

The total number of graduates is slightly more than 1,900 students from Baylor's undergraduate and graduate programs and George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

The second-largest graduating class was in spring 2004, when 1,886 students earned their degrees. That number includes students from undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as graduates of Baylor Law School, that have not yet been factored into the spring 2008 total.

This year's record total boasts nearly 20 more graduating students before the law graduates are counted.

Commencement for graduates of Baylor's Truett Seminary will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, May 16, in the Seminary's Paul Powell Chapel.

Doctoral candidates, their spouses, the chairs of their departments and mentors are invited to dinner hosted by the Graduate School at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Barfield Drawing Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center. Reservations are required.

Commencement exercises will take place at the Ferrell Center in two ceremonies on Saturday, May 17. The 9:30 a.m. ceremony will honor graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as masters and doctoral candidates from the College. The 2:30 p.m. ceremony will honor graduates from the Hankamer School of Business and the Schools of Education, Engineering and Computer Science, Social Work, Music, The Louise Herrington School of Nursing and masters and doctoral candidates from the respective schools.

The Bearer of the Mace in the morning ceremony will be Dr. Glenn O. Hilburn, professor emeritus of religion. The Bearer of the Mace in the afternoon ceremony will be Dr. Carolyn A. Backus, professor emeritus of vocal studies.

In both ceremonies, Harold R. Cunningham, chairman of the board of regents, will bring greetings, and President John M. Lilley will deliver a message to the graduates.

During commencement exercises, the Baylor Alumni Association will honor two Baptist leaders and a federal judge with annual awards honoring exemplary public and church service.

The Honorable Priscilla Richman Owen, judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, will receive the Price Daniel Distinguished Public Service Award. The George W. Truett Distinguished Church Service Award will be presented to Dr. William M. Pinson Jr., Distinguished Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at Baylor and executive director emeritus of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Dr. Daniel Vestal, coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Owen and Vestal are Baylor graduates. Pinson is an alumnus-by-choice of Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

Vestal will receive his award at the morning commencement ceremony. Pinson and Owen will be honored during the afternoon commencement.

These two annual awards are given to individuals who embody the meaning of Baylor's official motto, "Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana" (For Church, For State). The Truett Award is given to someone who exemplifies the life and career of the great pastor and Baptist statesman, the late George W. Truett. In a similar manner, the Daniel award goes to an individual whose record exemplifies the spirit of selfless dedication to public service represented by the life and career of the late Gov. Price Daniel, who earned a Baylor law degree in 1932.

Outstanding faculty honored at both ceremonies will be Dr. Michael J. Donahoo, associate professor of computer science; Dr. W. Dennis Tucker, associate professor and associate dean at Truett Seminary; Dr. Dwight P. Russell, associate professor of physics; Dr. David D. Corey, assistant professor of political science and assistant professor in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core; Dr. David A. Smith, lecturer in history and the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core; Dr. James R. Garven, professor of finance, insurance and real estate; Dr. Jann Cosart, associate professor of music; Robert F. Darden III, associate professor of journalism; and Dr. Erich J. Baker, assistant professor of computer science.

The Collins Outstanding Professor Award will be presented to Dr. Mona M. Choucair, lecturer in English, in the morning ceremony. Recipients of the Collins Award are chosen annually by a senior class vote and deliver an open lecture on campus.

After each commencement exercise, the Baylor Alumni Association will hold a reception for new graduates. The reception will be located directly outside the Ferrell Center and will offer refreshments, photo opportunities and a chance to register for Alumni Association membership.

For more information about the commencement exercises, visit the web site at

Looking for more news from Baylor University?