Nelsen to participate in first commencement ceremonies of presidency on May 15
Posted: 04/29/2010
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The University of Texas-Pan American's eighth leader Dr. Robert S. Nelsen will preside over his first commencement ceremonies as president on May 15. Nelsen is expected to confer more than 1,600 prospective graduates with their degrees at the McAllen Convention Center.

A longstanding tradition at UTPA, commencement is considered one of the most rewarding days of the academic year and this semester a total of 1,244 undergraduates and 368 graduates, master's degrees only, will be receiving congratulations from Nelsen.

"I am looking forward to participating in the first commencement ceremonies of my tenure here at The University of Texas-Pan American and am extremely proud to be presenting the UTPA graduates with the diplomas they have worked so hard to obtain," Nelsen said. "I am particularly excited to see that we have a record number of students graduating and that so many of these graduates will be receiving their master's degrees."

Three ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The morning ceremony will feature prospective graduates from the College of Health Sciences and Human Services and College of Science and Engineering while the 1 p.m. ceremony will spotlight the College of Arts and Humanities and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The final ceremony will highlight the College of Business Administration and College of Education.

- Dr. Richard A. Tapia

The number of prospective graduates for the six UTPA colleges includes: College of Education, 260; College of Arts and Humanities, 295; College of Business Administration, 249; College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 244; College of Health Sciences and Human Services, 282; and College of Science and Engineering, 282.

Serving as commencement speaker for the 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. ceremonies will be Dr. Richard A. Tapia, University Professor, Maxfield Oshman Professor in Engineering, Associate Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education at Rice University.

Tapia, who was born in Los Angeles to parents who separately emigrated from Mexico as young teenagers in search of educational opportunities, was the first in his family to attend college and is now internationally known for his research in the computational and mathematical sciences and is a national leader in education and outreach. He is described as "a seminal figure who inspired a generation of African-American, Native American and Latino/Latina students to pursue careers in mathematics."

- Robert W. Shepard

Robert W. Shepard, board chairman of Shepard Walton King Insurance Group, will address prospective graduates at the 4:30 p.m. ceremony. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Shepard has been actively involved in higher education at the state and regional levels and was appointed chairman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) by Governor Rick Perry in July 2005 and has served on the THECB since his appointment by Governor George W. Bush in 1996. He also serves as chairman and president of the College for All Texans Foundation. In addition, Shepard is a longtime member of the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, in which he currently serves as vice president and on the board of directors.

If you are unable to attend the spring 2010 commencement ceremonies, a live webcast will be available at The latest version of Adobe Flash Player must be installed on your computer prior to the event.

For further commencement information, visit