Largest Graduating Class in Southeast History to Receive Degrees

Gov. Jay Nixon Presenting Address May 12

Students graduateCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 30, 2012 – The largest graduating class in the history of Southeast Missouri State University will receive degrees at spring commencement exercises planned for 2 p.m. May 12 at the Show Me Center.

Receiving degrees will be 1,322 students – 1,052 undergraduates and 270 graduate students.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will deliver the commencement address.

An Honors Convocation will be held at 10:30 a.m. in the Show Me Center to honor 373 undergraduates, 120 students receiving master’s degrees and 16 students receiving specialist degrees. Dr. Susan Swartwout will present the Honors Convocation address. Swartwout is professor of English at Southeast and publisher and editor of the Southeast Missouri State University Press. She is also the 2011 recipient of Southeast’s Faculty Merit Award and the 2011 Provost’s Research, Instruction and Development for Excellence (PRIDE) Award.

Among the undergraduate students honored at the Honors Convocation, 72 students will graduate summa cum laude, 115 will graduate magna cum laude and 180 will graduate cum laude. The required undergraduate grade point average for graduating summa cum laude is 3.9 to 4.0. Students graduating magna cum laude must earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.75 to 3.89. Students graduating cum laude must earn a grade point average of 3.5 to 3.74.

Of the 136 graduate and specialist students at the Convocation, 103 will graduate with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Graduate students participating in the Honors Convocation must have achieved at least a 3.9 grade point average.

Twenty-one undergraduate students with a perfect 4.0 grade point average will be honored at commencement.

In addition, the Jane Stephens Honors Program will recognize 40 students who are graduating as honors scholars. 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.

Nine students will be recognized who are graduating with “Academic Distinction in the Department of Major.” They have completed a special project in conjunction with a faculty committee, department chair or 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.

The honor society of Phi Kappa Phi will recognize 60 graduating members during the commencement exercises. Phi Kappa Phi is the oldest international honor society, having been established in 1897. Southeast 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.

One hundred seventy-one graduating members of Phi Eta Sigma also will be honored. Phi Eta Sigma is a national scholastic honor society that recognizes high scholastic achievement during the first year of college and offers leadership and scholastic 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.

Also graduating will be 26 members of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society for college students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni. Students inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa are juniors, seniors and graduate students who are in the upper one-third of their class academically and who have demonstrated achievement in one of the following five areas: scholarship; athletics; campus and community services, social and religious activities, or 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.

The Southeast Chamber Orchestra, under the leadership of Sara Edgerton, professor of music, will perform during the commencement ceremony. Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be Chris Woiwood, a music major from Lee’s Summit, Mo. Hailey Maevers of Cape Girardeau, a candidate for graduation, will sing the “Alma Mater.” Maevers will be graduating with a Bachelor of Music Education with a major in music, vocal option.

The commencement speaker, Nixon, is the state’s 55th governor and was elected by Missourians in November 2008.

As governor, Nixon has put forward an agenda to make government more efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of Missouri families. He has committed to creating jobs in Missouri, to holding the line on taxes and placing a college education within reach for more Missouri students.

The governor has successfully worked with the legislature to pass several jobs initiatives to put Missourians back to work, including a bill to bring next generation automotive production to Missouri. Nixon’s call to reform Missouri’s drunk-driving laws resulted in changes to keep repeat offenders off the road.

Nixon has led the fight for families with children with special needs, including the successful push to require insurance companies to cover proven treatments for autism disorders, as well as the creation of “Partnership for Hope,” which is helping provide community-based services to those with developmental disabilities.

Nixon, the vice chair of the National Governors Association’s Economic Development and Commerce Committee, has made a strong public education system one of his chief priorities, with Missouri’s public elementary and secondary schools receiving a record amount of funding. In addition, he reached historic agreements to freeze tuition rates at Missouri’s public colleges and universities for two years in a row. The legislature also passed Nixon’s “Caring for Missourians and Training for Tomorrow” initiatives that are enabling Missouri’s colleges to produce thousands more graduates each year in high-demand fields, such as health care.

Nixon was praised for his strong leadership on the natural disasters that hit Missouri in 2011, as he moved quickly to mobilize and maximize the state resources needed to protect lives and property, and to help those Missourians affected recover and rebuild.

He has been a strong supporter of the Missouri National Guard and Missourians serving in the military, creating the “Show-Me Heroes” program to promote hiring of veterans. A member of the President’s Council of Governors, Nixon has made multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit with troops and be briefed on military operations.

During his first two years in office, Nixon visited each of Missouri’s 85 state parks and historic sites to help promote these treasured resources as recreational destinations, with a goal of reaching 20 million visitors by 2020. He also began the State Parks Youth Corps to beautify the parks and put young people to work. An avid hunter and fisherman, both Nixon and the First Lady have led a campaign to encourage young Missourians to spend more time outdoors.

Prior to becoming governor, Nixon was elected to a record four terms as Missouri’s attorney general. His settlements with the insurance industry and hospitals led to the formation of two of the largest health care foundations in state history. One of Nixon’s most successful programs, Missouri’s popular No-Call List, has become a model for states across the nation to stop telemarketing calls.

A native of De Soto, Mo., Nixon was raised in a family of public servants. His mother, the late Betty Nixon, was a teacher and served as president of the local school board. His father, Jerry Nixon, was mayor of De Soto and a judge in the community.

After earning his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri, Nixon returned to De Soto to practice as an attorney. In 1986, he was elected to the Missouri Senate, where he would represent the people of Jefferson County for six years.

Nixon and his wife, Georganne Wheeler Nixon, have two sons, Jeremiah and Willson.

For families unable to attend the Honors Convocation or commencement ceremony, or who wish to preserve the moment, a DVD or videotape copy of either event may be ordered by contacting Dr. Jim Dufek, at (573) 651-2484.