UTPA commencement ceremonies set for Dec. 18
Posted: 12/09/2004
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The University of Texas-Pan American is expecting approximately 1,610 prospective graduates to participate in the four fall commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 18 at the UTPA Fieldhouse.

"This is the largest group of graduates we have had so far at this University," Dela Howlett, assistant registrar for graduation from the UTPA Office of Records and Registration, said. "Every year that this University grows, so do our graduating numbers."

In fall 2003 there were an estimated 1,400 UTPA prospective graduates while in spring 2004 the number of prospective graduates grew to 1,525.

Prospective graduates from the College of Arts and Humanities and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences will open the day at 9 a.m. The College of Education and the College of Science and Engineering will hold their ceremony at noon, while the College of Business Administration and the College of Health Sciences and Human Services will follow at 3 p.m.

Those graduates expected to walk in the 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. ceremonies will be issued 10 tickets for family and friends to attend. Howlett said the number of tickets is limited to comply with the fire marshal's code for maximum seating capacity in the UTPA Fieldhouse. Tickets will be available at the University Bookstore through Friday, Dec. 17 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Graduates must present a picture ID when picking up the tickets.

An overflow area at the gym in the Health and Physical Education II Building will be provided for extra guests without tickets for the first three ceremonies.

The final ceremony held at 6 p.m. will feature the master and doctoral candidates receiving their degrees from all colleges.

This year's ceremonies will include four guest speakers: Jose H. Villarreal, attorney, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, L.L.P.; Yno Gonzalez, president, SBC Long Distance; Theresa Alvillar-Speake, director of Economic Impact and Diversity, U.S. Department of Energy; and Dr. George Sona Eyambe, UTPA associate professor, College of Health Sciences and Human Services.

The fall 2004 commencement is also the first time Dr. Blandina Cárdenas, UTPA president, will preside over the ceremonies after being endowed with the powers and responsibilities of the office during the Presidential Investiture Dec. 3.

Villarreal practices primarily in the public law and policy and public finance areas and has a broad political and legal background, having worked in several presidential campaigns, including national treasurer of the Gore-Lieberman 2000 presidential campaign. Following the 1992 presidential campaign, in which he served as deputy campaign manager of the Clinton-Gore campaign, Villarreal served as associate director in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

Gonzalez became president of SBC Long Distance in January 2003. He is responsible for all operations for SBC Long Distance and manages the contractual relationship with WilTel Communications.

Speake was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed in August 2001 by the Senate as director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy. Speake is the first Hispanic ever to head the office.

Eyambe is an associate professor in the UTPA Clinical Laboratory Science Program and received the 2000-2001 Outstanding Teaching Achievement Award from UTPA. Some of his research interests include health promotion and HIV/AIDS prevention, effects of pesticides and environmental pollutants on the immune system, and blood group antigens and disease association. He has written numerous articles and publications and has been awarded a large number of grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health and other organizations.

All graduates are asked to arrive one hour before their ceremony begins. Individuals with disabilities needing assistance or special accommodations in order to attend this event should contact Howlett at 956/381-2389 or by e-mail at by Monday, Dec. 13.