Commencement salutes graduates
Chavez, Lewis and Udall to receive honorary degrees
Denise Chávez, New Mexico author, actress, director and teacher, will receive an honorary doctor of letters and deliver the commencement address at UNM’s spring 2004 commencement ceremony set for Saturday, May 15 at 9 a.m. in University Arena, “The Pit.”
Edward Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Essence Communications Partners, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters, and Stewart Udall, political figure, activist and scholar, will be honored with an honorary doctor of laws degree.
Convocation ceremonies will be held at the individual departments and colleges following the ceremony and throughout the preceding day. Governor Bill Richardson is guest speaker for the UNM School of Law convocation on Saturday at 1 p.m.
At commencement, UNM President Louis Caldera will confer a projected total of 2,797 degrees upon UNM main campus graduates. Of the total, the breakdown is as follows: 1,907 bachelor’s degrees, 561 master’s degrees, 95 doctorates, 88 juris doctorates, three graduate certificates, 69 medical doctorates, 70 pharmacy doctorates and four education specialists.
UNM Regents Douglas Brown and Maria Griego-Raby will be among dignitaries present. Richard W. Holder, deputy provost and professor of chemistry, is master of ceremonies, and Vivian Valencia, University Secretary, is chief marshal.
The University Band, conducted by Eric Rombach-Kendall, will play a selection of music for the ceremony’s prelude and processional.
Provost Brian Foster will award the Popejoy Dissertation Prize to Francois Gelineau, Political Science. Caldera will award honorary degrees and confer the degrees in course.
UNM’s Alumni Association will hold an open house May 10-14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Hodgin Hall. The Alumni Association with President and Mrs. Louis Caldera will host a reception May 15 at University House from 1 to 3 p.m.
Honorary degree recipients
Chávez captures and gives a voice to the people, landscape and distinctive language of the Southwest borderlands. Often her characters live on the edges of society, struggling to understand their personal identity, cultural heritage and place in the community.
Chávez is the author of more than 20 plays – her best known include Plaza (1984) and Women in the State of Grace (1989) – as well as three books of prose fiction, poems and a story for children.
Widely regarded as among the most important Hispanic-American writers in the United States today, Chávez was born and raised in Las Cruces. She earned her B.A. in English from New Mexico State University, MFA from Trinity University, San Antonio; and M.A. in creative writing from UNM. She currently lives in her hometown and directs the Cultural Center of Mesilla.
As co-founder, publisher, chairman and CEO of Essence Communications Partners, the career of UNM alumnus Ed Lewis is one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of the last half-century. A New York City native, Lewis earned his B.A. in 1963 and M.A. in 1965, both in political science.
In 1979, as a management trainee armed with little but a business plan and a loan, Lewis and partner Clarence O. Smith started a lifestyle publication for African American women, ESSENCE Magazine. The men grew the publication into one of the largest African American-owned multimedia organizations.
Lewis is a passionate advocate of civil rights and community involvement. He gives both time and money to UNM and served two four-year terms on the UNM Foundation Board, 1992-2000.
Political figure, citizen activist and scholar of culture and history in the American Southwest, Stewart Udall has served our region for decades in innumerable ways – from environmental stewardship to the defense of Native American miners who are victims of radiation. His eight books stand as testament to the region’s land, history and people.
He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and obtained a law degree from the University of Arizona in 1948.
Elected to the U.S. Congress in 1954 from the 2nd District of Arizona, shortly after his fourth term, Udall was appointed by U.S. President John F. Kennedy to serve as the 37th secretary of the Interior, a cabinet position he held for eight years during the Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations. Charged with developing and protecting our nation’s natural resources, he helped bring the ecological evolution to fruition.
For information and a list of convocations visit http://www.unm.edu/~commence.