Donofrio, Alanis, Ghanem to speak at May 10-11 commencement
Contact: Scott Maier, Senior Editor 381-3639
Posted: 04/23/2002
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For the first time, The University of Texas-Pan American will conduct graduation ceremonies over two days at the Fieldhouse, with one commencement Friday, May 10 at 6 p.m. and four Saturday, May 11. There are 1,308 prospective graduates.

Friday's ceremony is for doctoral and master's candidates only. Saturday's opening commencement is at 9 a.m. for the College of Arts and Humanities and College of Health Sciences and Human Services, while graduates from the College of Education will march at noon. Graduates from the College of Business Administration and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences will have their commencement at 3 p.m., and students in the College of Science and Engineering will walk at 6 p.m.

Three speakers have confirmed to speak at graduation: Nicholas Donofrio, senior vice president of Technology and Manufacturing for IBM Corp., will speak at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Dr. Salma I. Ghanem, Department of Communication chair and associate professor, will speak at the Friday ceremony; and Texas Education Commissioner Felipe Alanis will speak at 9 a.m. and noon.

Dr. Salma I. Ghanem

Ghanem has been with the UTPA communication department since 1994 in a variety of roles. She also has been a communications specialist with Scott and White Hospital and Clinic in Temple, Texas, and worked for the Press Office of the Egyptian mission to the United Nations.

Among her honors, Ghanem has received a UTPA Outstanding Faculty Award, was selected a Freedom Forum Scholar, and awarded several honors by the Texas Press Women Association and Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. She recently was named "Educator of the Year" by the 10th District of the American Advertising Federation, which includes Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Ghanem obtained a doctorate and master's degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from UTPA.

Appointed in late March, Alanis is the state's first Hispanic education commissioner and the ninth since Texas began the current appointed commissioner system in 1951.

Alanis, 53, is a former teacher, principal, administrator, superintendent, deputy education commissioner and most recently, assistant vice chancellor for Academic Affairs in The University of Texas System. The San Juan native began his teaching career in 1970 as a teacher in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district, where from 1973 to 1987 he was an assistant principal and then principal.

Dr. Felipe Alanis

In 1989, Alanis was executive director for secondary education in the Ector County Independent School District and became deputy superintendent there two years later. He was named superintendent of the San Benito Consolidated School District in 1994 before becoming deputy commissioner for programs and instruction in the Texas Education Commission.

A PSJA graduate and grandson of South Texas migrant farm workers, Alanis holds a Ph.D. in educational administration from The University of Texas at Austin and two degrees from UTPA (then Pan American University) - a master's in education administration and a bachelor's in political science. He is on the American Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Administrators.

Meanwhile, Donofrio leads the strategy for developing and commercializing advanced technology across the company's global operations by overseeing IBM Research, the Personal and Printing Systems Group, the Integrated Supply Chain and Integrated Product Development teams, and the Import Compliance Office.

Also, Donofrio is on the IBM Executive Committee and Strategy Team, leads the IBM Technology Team, and is IBM Academy of Technology Board of Governors chair. Having joined the company in 1967, his career has risen quickly through numerous technical management and executive positions in the product divisions.

Nicholas Donofrio

Among his many achievements and technical and science honor society memberships, Donofrio holds seven technology patents. He is chairman emeritus and board member of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), a fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a National Academy of Engineering member, Bank of New York Board of Directors member, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Board of Trustees member.

Donofrio earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1967 and a Master of Science in the same field from Syracuse University in 1971. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering from Polytechnic in 1999.

The 1,308 prospective candidates for degrees include 1,051 for bachelor's degrees, 245 candidates for master's degrees and 12 for doctoral degrees.

Graduates are asked to arrive one hour before their commencement begins. For more information, contact the Office of Admissions and Records at 956/381-2201 or 381-2206.

Individuals with disabilities needing assistance or reasonable accommodations in order to attend this event must contact the office by May 6. Individuals with hearing impairments may contact the office by calling V/TDD 381-2215.