Record Number of Aggies Toting Diplomas

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A record number of Aggies will receive degrees this Friday and Satruday. Accordign to the University, more than 54 hundred college seniors will get diplomas. Another thousand will receive their master's degrees.

Below is a release from Texas A&M University

A record 5,417 Texas A&M University students are receiving degrees today and Saturday (May 11-12), including 1,071 earning master's and doctoral degrees.

Separate ceremonies were held Thursday by the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences for 127 students receiving Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees, with Texas First Lady Anita Perry serving as commencement speaker.

Commencement speakers for students receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees this spring are New York Daily News Washington Bureau Chief Tom DeFrank, CNN Senior Vice President for International Relations Rolando Santos, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake-all Texas A&M graduates-and Professor R. Douglas Slack, who is completing a term this month as speaker of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate.

Texas A&M's four Reed Arena commencement exercises-three today and the final one Saturday morning-also include bestowing the university's most coveted awards. Among them: the Distinguished Alumni Award presented to three former students and one given posthumously; the Presidential Professorships for Teaching Excellence, which include $25,000 stipends, believed to be the highest-valued award given by an institution on an annual basis, and the Brown Foundation-Earl Rudder Memorial Outstanding Student Award.

Stephen H. Daniel, a member of Texas A&M's Philosophy Department since 1983, and John L. Hogg, who joined the Department of Chemistry in 1975, were named Presidential Professors for Teaching Excellence, designations that they will retain for the duration of their teaching careers. The professorships were established in 2003 to underscore the importance of teaching at a major research university.

Additionally, Ann Lee Kenimer, a professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, will be honored for having been named a 2007 Piper Professor, an award bestowed on outstanding college teachers in Texas by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation of San Antonio.

The Brown-Rudder Awards will be presented to two seniors whose identity will be revealed at ceremonies during which they receive their degrees. They were judged by an anonymous panel to be the most outstanding seniors graduating this spring-academically-and personifying the qualities exemplified by the late Gen. Earl Rudder, who served as president of Texas A&M from 1959 until his death in 1970.

The university also is honoring two Texas high school teachers who were selected from among a host of teachers nominated by graduating Aggies on the basis of having had lasting impacts on their lives. Texas A&M University Inspiration Awards for Exceptional Secondary Education, believed to be the only such citations presented by a institution of higher learning in Texas, were presented to John Jackson of Copperas Cove High School and Cynthia Stroman of Highland High School near Roscoe in West Texas. The awards include $2,000 for the honorees and $1,000 for their high school, and the honorees are given the opportunity to present Texas A&M degrees to the students who nominated them.

Preston M. Geren Jr. and Roderick D. Stepp, both of Fort Worth, and Raul B. Fernandez of San Antonio are the recipients of the 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award presented jointly by the university and The Association of Former Students. The late Edwin J. Kyle, who graduated in 1899 and later became dean of agriculture and for whom the university's football stadium is named, was presented the award posthumously.

Eighty members of the Corps of Cadets are scheduled to be commissioned Saturday afternoon as officers in the Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps, with Rear Admiral Robert Smith III, U.S. Navy Reserve (Ret), a 1961 Texas A&M graduate, speaking and presiding over the commissioning ceremonies in Reed Arena. Additionally, 62 cadets are candidates for the Corps of Cadets' Certificate in Leadership Study and Development, with James D. Pitcock of Houston, a 1949 Texas A&M graduate, scheduled to present the certificates.

Texas A&M continues to commission more officers than any institution in the nation except for the service academies.

The weekend's activities conclude with the Corps of Cadets Final Review, the organization's year-ending Kyle Field parade in which seniors lead their units for the last time, followed by seniors-to-be taking command of the units for the first time. Final Review is scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.