OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU COMMENCEMENT TO FEATURE RECORD NUMBER OF GRADS

06/07/2004

CORVALLIS - Oregon State University's 135th commencement exercise will be held in two ceremonies on Sunday, June 13, in Reser Stadium. Students will receive their graduate degrees beginning at 9 a.m., while the undergraduate ceremony, televised by Oregon Public Broadcasting, begins at 2 p.m.

The OSU undergraduate ceremony will feature as guest speaker former senator and astronaut John H. Glenn, whose pioneering space flight in 1962 literally launched a new era in space exploration. Glenn returned to space in 1998 after four terms in the U.S. Senate at the age of 77.

This is the first time in several years that OSU has had a commencement speaker, according to university officials.

In the weeks leading up to graduation, a record 4,199 students were seeking a record 4,323 degrees. The actual number of degree recipients won't be known until just before commencement, when grades are issued. More than 2,300 students will participate in commencement, which also may be a record. OSU is one of the few major universities where students receive their actual diplomas during commencement, not just a replica.

Sen. Glenn will receive an honorary doctorate degree from OSU, as will Sanjaya Rajaram, the retired director of the Wheat Research Division of the International Center for Maize and Wheat Research.

Payson Cha, an OSU alumnus and noted business leader from Hong Kong, will be honored with the university's Distinguished Service Award, though he is unable to attend the ceremony.

Some of the first graduates in the university's "dual degree" teacher preparation program will go through the ceremony, said Karen Kvidt, academic adviser in the OSU School of Education. The program offers students a way to earn two undergraduate degrees concurrently, and is designed to add more qualified graduates to the teaching pool from outside of traditional education schools.

The primary degree is in a student's chosen major, from anthropology to zoology. The university-wide education degree can be earned concurrently with one or two terms of additional study, Kvidt said.

The option started last summer and looked to be a perfect fit for OSU graduate Bryson Nist, a 1998 graduate of Santiam Christian Senior High School outside of Corvallis.

"Last year, I became interested in a teaching career," said Nist, an OSU liberal studies major. "When I started looking into it, I heard about the double degree program."

Some of the first OSU students will graduate with this June with a "Professional Master's of Science" degree, which provides a blend of traditional science disciplines with coursework in business, communication and other skills. It is being hailed as the science equivalent of an MBA degree, and provides some attractive options for students who need a strong science background, but plan to work in private industry.

Every year at commencement, OSU has hundreds of inspirational stories among its graduates and 2004 is no exception. Christine Roberts will graduate summa cum laude with a degree in liberal studies and an English minor, and she plans to follow up with the pursuit of a master's in teaching. Her plan: to teach English to students with special needs.

Roberts was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of two and has limited mobility. In fact, after one recent surgery, she was temporarily unable to swallow, speak or use her hands. But she took advantage of OSU's Extended Campus online programs to complete a wide range of studies and research, working in a home setting.

Alex Lokeno was born in Kenya and was the only member of his tribe to attend high school. This week, the personable Lokeno will graduate with a professional Pharm.D. degree after working in southern Oregon for several months. He was sponsored by a church to come to OSU and hopes to return to Kenya to help his people.

The late Amy Maisto will be posthumously awarded a degree in business. The OSU senior was killed spring break in an automobile accident; her degree will be picked up by her sister, Jennifer King, of Vancouver, Wash.