UA Commencement Schedule and Speakers Announced

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University of Arkansas graduate and undergraduate students will have the opportunity to “walk” the stage during the university’s annual spring Commencement ceremonies in Fayetteville.

The All University Commencement, which recognizes graduate students, will be held Saturday, May 12, followed by six ceremonies for undergraduates. The School of Law will hold its commencement on Saturday, May 19.

Each ceremony will feature its own commencement speaker, or in some cases, speakers.

The All University Commencement ceremony will be held at Bud Walton Arena and begin at 8:45 a.m.

Alice Walton, business woman, community leader and philanthropist, will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts and Humane Letters degree and deliver the commencement address. She is being honored for a lifetime of “transformative” achievements that have made an unprecedented impact on the people and the state of Arkansas. These include her leading role in construction of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport; her guiding position in the Walton Family Foundation, which has made significant donations to the University of Arkansas; and perhaps most significantly, her creation of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, an enduring cultural gift to Arkansas and the nation.

The Sam M. Walton College of Business will hold its commencement ceremony in Barnhill Arena at 12:30 p.m. Lee Bodenhamer, who received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas in 1957 and his M.B.A in 1964, will be the commencement speaker.

Bodenhamer is president of Centennial Consulting Co. in Little Rock. He founded First Variable Life Insurance Co. in Arkansas, the first company in the United States to sell variable life insurance policies. He established, through the Bodenhamer Foundation, a fellowship program at the University of Arkansas for freshmen entering the Honors College. A Bodenhamer Fellowship is one of the most generous and prestigious awards provided to students at the university.

The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.

As is customary with Fulbright College the commencement address will be delivered by a student. This year’s speaker is Julia Lyon, an honors biology major, with minors in mathematics and Spanish. She is one of the main organizers of the nationally recognized Full Circle Campus Food Pantry, and served as its chair during the past year. She will start medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in August.

The Fay Jones School of Architecture will hold its commencement in the Verizon Ballroom of the Arkansas Union, beginning at 1 p.m. Ms. W. Chris Hinton-Lee, who received her bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1975, will be the commencement speaker.

Hinton-Lee was the first black woman to graduate with a degree in architecture from the University of Arkansas; the first black woman licensed to practice architecture in Maryland; and after joining the Army Corps of Engineers she was both the first woman and the first African American to hold virtually every position of leadership she held throughout her 36-year career. She was appointed chief architect of the Army Corps of Engineers in 2004. In 2006, she deployed to Baghdad and served as director of reconstruction programs for the Gulf Region Division. She was not only the first black female, but also the first architect to achieve the rank of Senior Executive Service in the Corps of Engineers’ history. She retired in January from the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a member of the Senior Executive Service and recipient of the prestigious Presidential Rank Award.

The commencement ceremony for the College of Engineering will be held in Barnhill Arena at 3:30 p.m. University of Arkansas chancellor emeritus John A. White Jr. will deliver the commencement address.

White earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Arkansas in 1962. After earning his doctorate he spent 22 years on the faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology, ultimately becoming dean of engineering. He served as University of Arkansas chancellor from 1997 until 2008, leading the campus during a period of unprecedented growth and academic achievement. This was supported and enhanced by the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century, which raised more than a billion dollars. White’s vision helped move the University of Arkansas into the top tier of American higher education while profoundly reshaping the university’s image and reputation. He continues to teach at the university as an emeritus Distinguished Professor of industrial engineering.

The College of Education and Health Professions will hold its commencement ceremony in Bud Walton Arena at 4 p.m. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige will deliver the commencement address.

Paige served under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, spearheading the implementation of the “No Child Left Behind” Act, with the goal of re-invigorating America’s education system. Paige was the first school superintendent to serve as education secretary. Prior to his appointment he had been superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, the nation’s seventh-largest school district. The American Association of School Administrators named him the National Superintendent of the Year in 2001.

After leaving the Department of Education Paige co-founded the bipartisan Chartwell Education Group with offices in New York, Washington and London. The consulting firm offers solutions to 21st century challenges faced by the public and private sector enterprises that focus on education in the United States and around the world.

The Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences commencement will be held at Barnhill Arena at 6:30 p.m. The commencement speakers will be Pamela S. Mortensen, the college’s Outstanding Alumna; Donald C. Lee, the Outstanding Young Alumnus; and Julia Korman, the First Ranked Student Scholar.

Pamela S. Mortensen earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics, now human environmental sciences, at the University of Arkansas in 1977. She began her retail career at Federated Department stores, began to specialize in jewelry when she joined the Zale Corp. in Dallas, and held management positions at Walmart before joining JC Penney in 2009, where she is senior vice president and general merchandise manager of jewelry, watches and fashion accessories.

Donald C. Lee, manager of sourcing and procurement for the Walt Disney Co., received his Master of Science degree in agricultural economics from Bumpers College in 2002. Lee began his career with Masterfoods in Vernon, Calif., and joined the Walt Disney Co. in 2007. Throughout his career he has established a reputation as an innovative manager of sourcing and procurement. In his current position he manages the strategic involvement of sourcing resources to create value added opportunities in marketing and advertising across the company.

Julia Korman, a human development and family sciences major with a concentration in child development, received the college’s First Ranked Senior Scholar award, which signifies that she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average and completed all of her coursework at the University of Arkansas. She is a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and has been active in organizations such as the Student Alumni Board, Greek Life Facilitators, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Student Mobilization. She is the daughter of Debra Hockett and David Korman of Rowlett, Texas. She is planning to get married after graduation and move to Texas, where she and her husband will work in a youth ministry.

The School of Law commencement will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 19, in the Fayetteville Town Center. Jeffrey J. Gearhart, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will deliver the commencement address.

Gearhart graduated with high honors from the School of Law in 1989, and served as an editor of the Arkansas Law Review.

He served as a partner at the Rose Law Firm and Kutak Rock LLP before joining Walmart in 2003. He has served as general counsel since 2009 and was promoted to corporate secretary in 2010.

Gearhart is currently a member of the American Bar Association, Arkansas Bar Association and the Association of General Counsel, and is a member of the board of many local and national organizations.

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