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More than 2,300 graduates to receive degrees from Mizzou

University officials will award an honorary degree to William Baker, College of Engineering alumnus and structural engineer responsible for designing the world’s tallest building

December 12th, 2017

Story Contact: Liz McCune, 573-882-6212,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – During the weekend of Dec. 15-17, 2,308 students will receive degrees during winter commencement exercises at the University of Missouri. University officials also will honor William Baker, a Mizzou alumnus who is the structural engineer responsible for the world’s tallest skyscraper, with an honorary degree.

“Mizzou faculty and staff are proud of our soon-to-be college graduates,” Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “These students exemplify what it means to be Mizzou Made: They have worked hard, are well-prepared and ready to make immediate positive contributions in their chosen fields.”

During commencement weekend, MU will award 2,509 degrees, including 1,932 bachelor’s degrees, 414 master’s degrees, 147 doctorates, four law degrees, 11 education specialist degrees and one medical degree. Some students will receive more than one degree. Nearly 200 students will graduate from MU’s online program, Mizzou Online. Students in the online program range in ages from 21 to 69 and they hail from Missouri and 25 additional states. One online graduate is from Sweden.

Most schools and colleges will hold separate ceremonies for commencement and many invite notable speakers to address the graduates. There are no December ceremonies held for the College of Education, School of Law, School of Medicine or the College of Veterinary Medicine. Speakers at this year’s commencement ceremonies include:

  • Kreg Brown, partner and CEO-elect at EKS&H a tax, Trulaske College of Business ceremony on Dec. 15
  • Michael J. Brown, CEO and founder of Euronet Worldwide, College of Engineering ceremony on Dec. 16.
  • Marshall Stewart, vice chancellor for extension and engagement at MU, College of Human Environmental Sciences ceremony on Dec. 16.
  • Chris Hamby, Pulitzer Prize winner and investigative reporter at Buzzfeed News, School of Journalism ceremony on Dec. 17.

Note: A detailed schedule of events and biographical information of the honorary degree recipient, William Baker, are below.

For more information on the commencement ceremonies and Columbia accommodations, please visit:


MU Fall Commencement 2017

Schedule of Events

            Note: Students in the School of Social Work will participate in the College of Human Environmental Sciences ceremony. Students in the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs will participate in the Graduate School ceremony for master’s and educational specialist candidates. The School of Natural Resources in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources will hold a separate commencement ceremony.

Friday, Dec. 15

Office of Graduate Studies (hooding ceremony for doctoral candidates)

1 p.m.

Hearnes Center


School of Nursing

2 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: Pam Evans-Smith, assistant teaching professor


Trulaske College of Business

4:30 p.m.

Hearnes Center

Speaker: Kreg Brown, partner and CEO-elect at EKS&H a tax, audit and consulting firm in Denver


School of Natural Resources

6:30 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall  

Speaker: Mike Alden, former MU director of athletics and current associate teaching professor of educational, school and counseling psychology in the College of Education


College of Arts and Science
7:30 p.m.

Hearnes Center
Melodie Powell, attorney at Evans & Dixon in Kansas City


Saturday, Dec 16

Honors Convocation

8:30 a.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: William Baker, honorary degree recipient


College of Engineering

12:00 p.m.

Hearnes Center

Speaker: Michael J. Brown, CEO and founder of Euronet Worldwide, a provider of electronic payment services


College of Human Environmental Sciences/School of Social Work

1 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: Marshall Stewart, MU vice-chancellor for extension and engagement


College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

4 p.m.

Hearnes Center

Speaker: Marc Linit, senior associate dean for research and extension and senior associate director of the Agricultural Experiment Station


School of Health Professions

5 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: Bert Malone, vice-president of the Missouri Public Health Association


Sunday, Dec. 17

School of Journalism

1 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: Chris Hamby, Pulitzer Prize winner and investigative reporter at Buzzfeed News


ROTC Commissioning of Officers
3 p.m.
Second floor of Crowder Hall


William Baker Biography

Long before civil and structural engineer William Baker collaborated on the project that would become the tallest building in the world, he was living in Fulton, Mo. He thought he would reside in that same small town forever, but he took an aptitude test in high school that changed his entire life.

Those great test scores led him to MU to study engineering. In 1975, Baker graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a certificate from the MU Honors College. After working in the oil business, he decided to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Illinois, which he earned in 1980.

Baker, a partner at Chicago’s prestigious Skidmore, Owings & Merril LLP architecture firm, is best known for his work in designing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building.

Construction on the Burj Khalifa began in 2004, but the design process started long before that. Among his greatest challenges in engineering the world’s tallest building Baker cites understanding, taming and working with the forces of nature.

Baker also was instrumental in other worldwide notable projects such as the BP Pedestrian Bridge in Millennium Park in Chicago, the Cayan Tower in Dubai and the Broadgate Exchange House in London.

Baker has left a lasting imprint on the field of engineering. His many accomplishments have led to his initiation into several highly respected societies. Baker is a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers and an international Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He also is a member of the American Concrete Institute and the Committee on Specifications, American Institute of Steel Construction.

One of the greatest honors Baker has received is his membership into the National Academy of Engineering. For engineers, this is one of the highest professional honors. Individuals must be elected by present members for outstanding identifiable contributions or accomplishments in their field.

Besides accepting the honorary doctorate from MU, he also has received honorary doctorates in engineering from the University of Stuttgart in Germany and from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Additional awards include the ASCE Outstanding Projects and Leaders Lifetime Award for Design and the Fazlur Rahman Khan Medal from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Baker also became the first American to receive the Fritz Leonhardt prize from Germany and is one of only three living Americans to receive the Gold Medal from the Institution of Structural Engineers.