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5,795 Graduates to Receive Degrees During MU’s Spring Commencement Ceremonies

University officials will award two honorary degrees

May 02, 2012

Story Contact(s):
Christian Basi,, 573-882-4430

By Jerett Rion

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Beginning Friday, May 11 and continuing through Sunday, May 13, nearly 5,800 students will receive degrees during Spring commencement exercises at the University of Missouri. University officials also will honor educator Euclid Williamson and author Ron Powers with honorary degrees at the Honors Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 12.

“The University of Missouri is proud of their achievements and confident that our graduates will continue their success out of the classroom and into the workforce,” said Ann Korschgen, vice provost for enrollment at MU. “I believe that MU prepares our students not only for their careers, but also for other endeavors that they will encounter along the way.”

During commencement weekend, MU will award 6,495 degrees, including 4,844 bachelor’s degrees, 1,036 master’s degrees, 286 doctorates, 143 law degrees, 29 education specialist degrees, 87 medical degrees and 70 veterinary medicine degrees. (Some students receive more than one degree.)

Each school and college holds separate ceremonies for commencement, and many invite notable speakers to address the graduates. U.S. Congressman Samuel B. Graves from Missouri’s 6th district will speak at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources ceremony on Saturday, May 12.

Other speakers at this year’s commencement ceremonies include:

  • Cindy Brinkley, vice president of global human resources at General Motors, will speak at the School of Journalism ceremony on Saturday, May 12;
  • Tracy Stearns, principal with 360 Architecture in Kansas City, will speak at the College of Human Environmental Sciences ceremony on Friday, May 11;
  • Steve Flick, founder of the Show-Me Energy Co-Op, will speak at the School of Natural Resources ceremony on Saturday, May 12.

NOTE: A detailed schedule of events and biographical information of honorary degree recipients is below. For more information on the commencement ceremonies and Columbia accommodations, please visit



MU Spring Commencement


Schedule of Events


NOTE: Students in the School of Social Work will participate in the College of Human Environmental Sciences ceremony. The School of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources will hold a separate commencement ceremony.



Friday, May 11
Online Commencement
Tyrone Christian, BA ’77, managing partner, TRC Consulting Group, Inc., and former chief marketing strategist for The MLK Memorial Foundation

Truman School of Public Affairs
10 a.m.
Mark Twain Ballroom, Memorial Union
Barton Wechsler, dean of the Truman School of Public Affairs


College of Veterinary Medicine
1 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall
Alumnus Speaker:
James Gilkerson, DVM ’74, corporate fellow and medical adviser for research and development at Boston Scientific Corporation’s Cardiac Rhythm Management Group


College of Engineering
2 p.m.
Hearnes Center
Lorraine Stipek, director of global business and operations at National Instruments


College of Human Environmental Sciences
3:30 p.m.
Mizzou Arena
Tracy Stearns, principal with 360 Architecture in Kansas City

Robert J. Trulaske Sr. College of Business
4:30 p.m.
Hearnes Center
Alumnus Speaker:
Steve Trulaske, owner of True Manufacturing Company in O’Fallon, Mo.

Sinclair School of Nursing
5:30 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall
Dean Judith Fitzgerald Miller, Emily McKenna, BSN candidate, José Gamboa, Accelerated BSN candidate, and Melissa Koga, RN, MS(N) candidate


College of Education
6:30 p.m.
Mizzou Arena
Todd Whitaker, educational author and professor of educational leadership, administration, and foundations at Indiana State University




Saturday, May 12

Honors Ceremony
8:30 a.m.
Francis Quadrangle

(Rain site: Mizzou Arena)
Honorary Degree recipients Ron Powers and Euclid Williamson (see attached biographies)


School of Natural Resources
12 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall
Steve Flick, founder of the Show-Me Energy Co-Op


College of Arts and Science
1 p.m.
Hearnes Center
Alumnus Speaker:
Howard Richards, BA ’88, former right tackle for the MU football team and current color analyst for MU football radio broadcasts

School of Health Professions
2:30 p.m.
Mizzou Arena
June McAllister Fowler, vice president of Corporate & Public Communications at BJC HealthCare


School of Medicine
3:30 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall
Alumnus Speaker:
Robert J. Smith, associate professor of surgery at the University of Tennessee and the first African-American graduate of the MU School of Medicine


College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
4:30 p.m.
Hearnes Center
U.S. Congressman Samuel B. Graves, representative from 6th MO district


School of Journalism
6 p.m.
Mizzou Arena
Alumnae Speaker:
Cindy Brinkley, BJ ’91, vice president of global human resources at General Motors

Graduate School
7:30 p.m.
Hearnes Center
George Justice, dean of the Graduate School

Sunday, May 13

ROTC Commissioning of Officers
12 p.m.
Mizzou Arena
Air Force Brigadier General Eric Overturf

School of Law
1:30 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall
Alumnus Speaker:
Patrick B. Starke, president-elect of The Missouri Bar Association




Euclid Williamson Biography
As founder and executive director of Target Hope, Euclid Williamson created and implemented a nationally acclaimed academic achievement and high school retention model for Chicago-area schools.  He has orchestrated 42-week Saturday classes, national college tours, and study abroad programs in Ghana, West Africa.  He has assisted 3,300 students in securing enrollment to 36 college and universities and procured more than $85.5 million in merit-based scholarships for disadvantaged minority students.

Williamson has completed this mission without federal money, relying on grants from private foundations and some corporate support.  In 1998, he launched a college retention model at several universities funded by Kraft Foods and the Kellogg Foundation. As a result, Target Hope was the recipient of the BP Amoco Educational Solutions Award in 2001.

Prior to the creation of Target Hope, Williamson worked as an educational consultant, providing development consulting and strategic planning for corporations and not-for-profit organizations.  He served as vice president of development and public affairs for the Chicago Urban League, director of development at Northeastern Illinois University and director of minority engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Williamson received a bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology at Chicago State University. He went on to obtain his master’s degree in public administration from Roosevelt University in Chicago and completed coursework toward a master’s of business administration in finance from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Williamson continued his education in the doctoral program in public policy and administration at Walden University and Indiana University.

Among his many honors and awards, Williamson received the DePaul University President’s Award of Excellence in 2002. He received the W.E.B. DuBois Lifetime Achievement Award from Fisk University, was honored by special proclamation by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daly in 2001 for graduating 100 percent of the high school participants of Target Hope, and was presented an Award of Excellence by the Chicago State University Alumni Association and an Excellence in Service to the Community Award by DePaul University.

Williamson co-authored the Target Hope African-American Community Action Agenda, providing comprehensive strategies to reverse the cycle of poverty, truancy, adolescent violence and teen pregnancy in disadvantaged communities. Williamson has served as mentor, teacher, role model, inspiration and friend. He established a Chicago/Mizzou Connection that has been a conduit for social, cultural and intellectual exchange affecting the university and the lives of its students. Williamson’s legacy is forever unfolding as he continues to impact the lives of students and higher education in America.  His legendary success is embodied in the lives of the hundreds of young people who have earned degrees and embraced their own sense of self-worth, dignity and belief that they could achieve their dreams.


Ron Powers Biography
Ron Powers’ accomplishments throughout a long career as a journalist, novelist and non-fiction writer are well known. His interest in American culture and communities has resulted in 14 books on topics including journalism, World War II, Mark Twain, small-town America and the plight of American adolescents.

A native of Hannibal, Mo., Powers graduated from the University of Missouri in 1963 with a bachelor’s of journalism degree. Following graduation, Powers became a television reviewer and critic. In 1973, Powers was the first television critic to receive the Pulitzer Prize for his critical writing as a Chicago Sun-Times TV-radio columnist. He won an Emmy Award for his work on CBS News Sunday Morning in 1985, where he was the media commentator from 1983-1988.

In 1986, Powers wrote the first of his three books focused on one of his hometown heroes, Mark Twain.  The most recent, “Mark Twain: A Life,” was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award.

From 1981 to 1994, Powers was a senior staff member at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, where he lectured on the craft of writing. In July 1991, Random House published “Far From Home: Life and Loss in Two American Towns,” which further examined, in narrative form, the many forces that lead to the atrophy of small-town America.

With James Bradley, he wrote The New York Times best seller “Flags of Our Fathers,” which was No. 1 on The New York Times nonfiction list for five weeks and remained on the best seller list for 46 weeks.  It was made into a movie of the same title, produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Clint Eastwood, which premiered in 2006.

Powers also collaborated with the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy on his memoir, “True Compass,” published in 2009.  The book spent 17 weeks on the The New York Times best seller list, including a week as No. 1.

In 2011, the Mizzou Alumni Association awarded Powers with a Faculty-Alumni Award. Powers lives in Vermont, where he serves as a writer-in-residence at Castleton College.