1,105 Students to Participate in Spring Commencement

Photo of commencement at Southeast Missouri State University

Over one thousand students will participate in commencement exercises May 13 at Southeast Missouri State University’s Show Me Center.

CAPE GIRARDEAU April 28, 2006ᾰOne thousand one hundred five students will participate in commencement exercises May 13 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson will present the commencement address and will be presented with the Vandiver Show Me State Award during exercises scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Show Me Center.  

Participating in the ceremony will be 960 undergraduate and 145 graduate students.  An Honors Convocation is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the Show Me Center, during which 259 undergraduate and 46 graduate students will be honored.  Dr. Ed Leoni, professor of health, human performance and recreation and Faculty Merit Award winner, will present the Honors Convocation address.

Leading the class of undergraduates are 22 students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages.  They are:

  • Colette Banda of Jackson, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in human environmental studies.
  • CariAnn Bergner of Belleview, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in psychology and a minor in criminal justice.
  • Scott Evans of Jerseyville, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of music education degree with a major in music education (instrumental) and a minor in mathematics.
  • Emily Grannemann of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of music degree with a major in music performance.
  • Daniel Grohmann of Red Bud, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of arts degree with a major in chemistry and a minor in Spanish.
  • Melissa James of Bonne Terre, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in elementary education and a minor in early childhood.
  • Nicholas Kunz of Marquand, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in political science and a bachelor of arts degree with a major in philosophy.
  • Holly Lamp of Carmi, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in English education.
  • Emily McCord of Greenville, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of arts degree with a major in French and a minor in family studies.
  • Emily McDowell of Bertrand, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in health management, health promotion option, and a minor in business administration.
  • Krista Mouser of Jackson, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in elementary education, early childhood education concentration.
  • Hilary Jo Mungle of Patton, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with majors in middle school, social studies concentration  and social studies education.
  • Jessica Myers of Cameron, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in health management, athletic training option.
  • Lynette Pfaff of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in elementary education, social studies concentration.
  • Alicia Sachse of Cape Girardeau, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science degree in human environmental studies, fashion merchandising option, and minors in sales marketing and retail management.
  • Krista Schubert of Carlyle, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of science in business administration degree with a major in marketing, integrated marketing communications option, and a minor in economics.
  • Kyla Smith of Scott City, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in psychology and a minor in criminal justice.
  • Whitney Smith of Geff, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of arts degree with a major in English and a minor in political science.
  • Bethany Thies of Red Bud, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of science in education degree with a major in mathematics.
  • Elizabeth Weaver of Waterloo, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of science degree with a major in mathematics and a bachelor of arts degree, music major.
  • Timothy Wencewicz of Cape Girardeau, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science degree with majors in chemistry and applied mathematics.
  • Aaron Woods of Piedmont, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science in computer science degree and a bachelor of arts degree with a major in philosophy.

Thirteen honors scholars will be recognized in the graduating class.  They are Dustin Bailey of Union, Mo.; Lindsey Baker of Scott City, Mo.; Laura Heldermon of Puxico, Mo.; Diane Holder of Baldwin, Ill.; Rebecca Komorech of Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Jennifer Markin of Cape Girardeau, Mo.; Hilary Jo Mungle of Patton, Mo.; Rachel Pobanz of Geneseo, Ill.; Meredith Purvis of Montgomery City, Mo.; Elizabeth Schoen of Belleville, Ill.; Randy Stone of Eureka, Mo.; Emily Werner of Arnold, Mo.; and Molly Wickenhauser of Godfrey, Ill.  To be recognized as an honors scholar, students must complete 24 hours of honors coursework, six of which are at the senior level, and maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.25.  Honors scholars also must complete a senior research project.

Three students will graduate with academic distinction in their major department.  They are Julie Hixson of Greenville, Mo., who will be recognized for academic distinction in the Department of Political Science, Cory Hutcheson of East Prairie, Mo., who will be recognized for academic distinction in the Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religion, and Lindsay Baker of Scott City, Mo., who will recognized for academic distinction in the Department of Art.

Students who graduate with “Academic Distinction in the Department of Major” complete a special project in conjunction with a faculty committee, department chair and dean.  Students carry out the project after they complete at least 75 credit hours of course work with a minimum 3.25 grade point average in their major department and a minimum 3.0 overall grade point average.

Ninety-nine graduating members of Phi Kappa Phi also will be recognized during commencement exercises.  Phi Kappa Phi is the oldest international honor society, having been established in 1897.  Southeast first chartered its Phi Kappa Phi chapter in 1992.  The charter is only extended to colleges and universities meeting the society’s rigorous standards, and is open to men and women in all academic fields who have demonstrated excellence of scholarship and integrity of character.

Graduating seniors who rank in the upper 10 percent of their class; juniors who rank in the upper 7.5 percent of their class; and graduate and professional students who have a graduate grade point average of 4.0 and have an outstanding undergraduate record are eligible for consideration.

In addition, 32 members of Omicron delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society for college students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni, will graduate.  Students inducted in Omicron Delta Kappa are juniors, seniors and graduate students who are in the upper one-third of their class who have demonstrated achievement in one of the following areas: scholarship; athletics; campus and community service; social and religious activities; campus government; journalism, speech and the mass media; and creative and performing arts.  The society is designed to recognize those who have exhibited a high standard of leadership and effectiveness in collegiate activities, to bring together student leaders from all sectors of collegiate interest; and to bring together members of the faculty and the student body on a basis of mutual interest and understanding. 

Also graduating will be 73 members of Phi Eta Sigma.  Phi Eta Sigma is a national scholastic honor society that recognizes high scholastic achievement during the first year of college and offers leadership and scholarship opportunities. The Southeast chapter was established in 1984.  Students inducted into Phi Eta Sigma attained at least a 3.5 grade point average on a four-point scale during their first semester or year at Southeast.

The Southeast Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Sara Edgerton, will perform during the commencement ceremony.  Singing the National Anthem and Alma Mater will be Elizabeth Weaver of Waterloo, Ill., who will graduate with a bachelor of arts in music degree and a bachelor of science degree in mathematics.  Dr. Ed Leoni, professor of health, human performance and recreation, and the 2005 Faculty Merit Award recipient, will serve as the grand marshal.

Leoni has been a professor at Southeast Missouri State University since 1980.  He led in the creation of the Department of Health and Leisure in 1990, which is now the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation with four degrees and more than 500 majors.  Leoni received the Faculty Merit Award last fall for his accomplishments spanning 26 years.  Highlights include development of the Johnson Faculty Centre, chairperson of the Faculty Senate, serving as the current faculty athletic representative to the NCAA, with his most recent leadership in honoring  tradition by retiring the Indian and Otahkian mascots and steering the institution to a new era with the Redhawk nickname and mascot.  In addition, Leoni has been recognized as an outstanding teacher and has received several awards for excellence in the classroom.  As a result of his development of a course entitled “Lifestyle Enhancement,” as well as his motivational and creative style in the classroom, he has been featured in newsprint and television.  Leoni has secured more than $1.7 million in grant funding focusing primarily on substance abuse prevention and youth sports.  He also has authored numerous articles in  scholarly journals on these subjects.  Finally, Leoni enjoys a reputation as an accomplished and sought after keynote and public speaker having delivered more than 100 workshops, seminars and speeches throughout the United States.

Among the undergraduates participating in the honors convocation, 58 will graduate summa cum laude, 77 will graduate magna cum laude, 123 will graduate cum laude, and one will graduate with honors in associate degrees.  The required undergraduate grade point average for graduating cum laude is 3.5 to 3.74.  Students graduating magna cum laude must earn a grade point average of 3.75 to 3.89.  Students graduating summa cum laude must earn a grade point average of 3.9 to 4.0.  Graduate students participating in the Honors Convocation must have achieved at least a 3.9 grade point average.

In addition to the graduates, eight alumni of Southeast Missouri State will be honored with the 2006 Young Alumni Merit Awards during commencement exercises.  The award, presented by the Southeast Missouri State University Alumni Association, is given annually to honor those alumni under the age of 37 who have brought distinction to the University through professional growth, service and individual character.  The Alumni Association at Southeast honors distinguished young alumni from each college by presenting them with the Young Alumni Merit Award.

The recipients and the college presenting each award are as follows:

  • Scott Giles of Dardenne Prairie, Mo., treasurer for the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA), Donald L. Harrison College of Business.
  • Russell Grammer of Cape Girardeau, Mo., fourth grade teacher for Cape Girardeau Public Schools, College of Education.
  • Stephanie Spalinger Manning of Wildwood, Mo., registered nurse with St. Anthony Medical Center in St; Louis, College of Health and Human Services.
  • Dr. Stephen Owen of Christiansburg, Va., assistant professor of criminal justice at Radford University, College of Health and Human Services.
  • Larry Eby of Sikeston, Mo., president and chief executive officer of Galaxy Cablevision, College of Liberal Arts.
  • Dr. Jennifer McCluskey of St. Louis, Mo., director of Retention Initiatives and assistant vice president for enrollment at Maryville University, College of Liberal Arts.
  • Darlene Nelson of Villa Ridge, Mo., mathematics instructor at Marquette High School, College of Science and Mathematics.
  • Chris Simmers of Jackson, Mo., extrusion manager at Nordenia, U.S.A., School of Polytechnic Studies.

The commencement speaker, Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson, was elected mayor of Cape Girardeau in 2002, and his first term was filled with many accomplishments, including saving the landmark Marquette Hotel; bringing new retailers, such as Sears Grand and Kohl’s to the community; balancing the city budget; developing plans to re-vitalize the downtown area, and making progress in funding for the University’s River Campus; and serving as part of a cooperative group to bring a new I-55 interchange north of Cape Girardeau.  Knudtson was re-elected to a second mayoral term on April 4. Knudtson was born in Rochester, Minn., and he attended the University of Minnesota on a baseball scholarship.  A severe shoulder injury ended his baseball career, but he continued his interest in sports by becoming a full-time hockey official, working in the U.S. Hockey League and the International Hockey League. He entered the business world in 1989, taking a position with Fleet Mortgage Corporation in Bloomington, Minn., and shortly afterward was offered a promotion with relocation to Cape Girardeau.  Here, he was offered a position with then Boatmen’s Bank, now Bank of America, and subsequently became executive vice president with First Missouri State Bank in Cape Girardeau and Jackson, the position he currently holds.

In addition to his responsibilities as a businessman and mayor, Knudtson has been active in a number of civic organizations since coming to southeast Missouri.  He has served as a member of the Easter Seals board, as treasurer and executive board member of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce, as past chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board, and as a youth baseball coach.  He is a member of the Southeast Hospital Foundation Board, a member of the Elks Club, a trustee for Southeast Missouri Hospital and chairman of the Cape Girardeau Area Magnet Board of Directors. He is a member of LaCroix United Methodist Church.  He enjoys playing golf, camping, and riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle.  He and his wife, the former Cynthia Cantrell, have one son, Gunnar James.