This weekend and next, Columbia will host proud parents, grandparents and keynote speakers as three of the city’s higher education institutions prepare to say goodbye to their graduating students.
Stephens College is scheduled to kick off the ceremonies at 11 a.m. Saturday, with about 110 students graduating in Silverthorne Arena on campus, Stephens’ news releases said.
The class speaker for the undergraduate program will be Catherine Withrow, graduating summa cum laude with degrees in international studies and Spanish and minors in philosophy/religion and sociology.
Elizabeth Kirby, who will receive a master’s of education in counseling, will represent the graduate and continuing studies division.
Stephens alumna Lyah Beth LeFlore, who recently published her first book, “Cosmopolitan Girls,” an African-American version of the TV show “Sex and the City,” will deliver the keynote address.
LeFlore has also worked as an associate producer and producer for two television shows and is now working on her second novel and planning to launch a company for book publishing and literary marketing and promotions.
Columbia College’s commencement is also scheduled for Saturday.
The ceremony, planned for 2 p.m., will be held in Southwell Complex and will feature state Rep. Judy Baker, D-Columbia, as the keynote speaker.
About 440 people are expected to participate in the ceremony, but degrees will be conferred to more than 800 students from the main and extended campuses, said Allyson Presley, director of evaluations and transcripts.
MU’s graduation ceremonies will span the weekend of May 13, with each college and school holding individual ceremonies.
A total of 4,268 degrees will be awarded, and 830 students will be honored at the Honors Convocation on May 14, the MU News Bureau said.
At that ceremony, an honorary degree will be given to Catherine Allen, chief executive officer of the Banking Industry Technology. Allen serves on the campus committee of the “For All We Call Mizzou” fund-raising campaign and was the first chairwoman of the campaign’s development steering committee.
Also receiving an honorary degree will be Herbert Roesky, director of the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of the Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen.
Roesky is a chemist and educator who has won the highest award of excellence in science from more than 15 countries.
A third honorary degree will be presented to William S. Thompson, managing director and chief executive officer of the Pacific Investment Management Co.
Thompson is the co-chair of the “For All We Call Mizzou” steering committee and received the MU Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, in 2004.
Thompson and his wife also established the William and Nancy Thompson Missouri Distinguished Professorship of Information Technology in the College of Engineering.
Other guests who will be speaking at MU’s ceremonies include former U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan, wife of late Gov. Mel Carnahan; Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mary L. Rhodes Russell; and Bill Eppridge, Sports Illustrated staff photographer.
A complete schedule of MU graduation dates, places and times can be found online at http://www.missouri.edu/~grads/springcer.htm.