728 Students to Participate in Winter Commencement



Dec. 3, 2004 – Seven hundred and twenty-eight students will participate in commencement exercises scheduled for Dec. 18 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Jeff Davis, Public Service Commissioner of Missouri and a 1994 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, will present the commencement address during exercises scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Show Me Center.

Participating in the ceremony will be 594 undergraduate students, 133 graduate students, and one student receiving a cooperative doctoral degree.  Barry Bernhardt, Southeast professor of music, and Marc Fulgham, an associate professor of music at Southeast, will perform a trumpet duet of the “National Anthem.”  The Southeast Brass Quintet, led by Fulgham, will perform a medley of festival favorites during the program.  Southeast’s “Alma Mater” will be led by Jeremy Boyer, a graduating senior from Potosi, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of music education degree with a major in vocal music education. 

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

• Pamela Acker of Hondo, Texas, who will receive a bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry.

• Kay Ehlke of Casey, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of science degree in health management with a health promotion option and minors in nutrition and marketing

• Alisa Long of DeSoto, Mo., who will receive a bachelor of science degree in mass communication with an option in public relations and a minor in Spanish.

• Rachel Mayer of Steeleville, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of science degree in education with a major in middle school education and a minor in science.

• Jennifer Speidel of Centralia, Ill., who will receive a bachelor of science in business administration degree with a major in accounting.

Four honors scholars will be recognized in the graduating class.  They are Zachary Getz of Florissant, Mo., Julie Munroe of Saint Mary, Mo., Jennifer Speidel of Centralia, Ill., and Amy Willingham of Murphysboro, 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.

Twenty-three members of Phi Kappa Phi also will be recognized during commencement exercises.  Phi Kappa Phi is an international honor society for academic distinction that brings together individuals from a variety of disciplines.  The charter is only extended to colleges and universities meeting the society’s rigorous standards. 

Southeast first chartered its Phi Kappa Phi chapter in 1992.  The society 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, six members of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society for college students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni, will graduate.  Students chosen for Omicron Delta Kappa are juniors, seniors and graduate students with a minimum 3.85 grade point average who have demonstrated achievement in one of the following areas:  scholarship; athletics; campus and community service, social and religious activities, and 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 interests; and to bring together members of the faculty and the student body on a basis of mutual interest and understanding.

An Honors Convocation is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in the Show Me Center, during which 108 undergraduates and 63 graduate students will be honored.  Dr. A. Louise Hart, professor and chair of the Department of Nursing at Southeast and recipient of the 2004 PRIDE Award, will present the Honors Convocation address and also will serve as grand marshal at the commencement ceremony.

Among the undergraduates participating in the honors convocation, 17 will graduate summa cum laude, 25 will graduate magna cum laude, and 66 will graduate cum laude.  Seven students 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.

The commencement speaker, Jeff Davis, is currently the youngest Public Service Commissioner in the nation, and began serving in the position in April 2004.  He is a member of the Missouri Universal Service Board and the National Association of the Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), where he serves on the gas committee. 

Davis has served as General Counsel and Chief of Staff for Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, providing legal counsel to the Committee on Gubernatorial Appointments and the Senate Administration Committee and supervising the President Pro Tem’s legislative agenda.  In this capacity, Davis helped to draft and pass several pieces of legislation, including the Senior Care and Protection Act of 2003, the Dram Shop Act of 2002, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the legislation that authorized the first sales tax holiday in Missouri. 

Prior to this experience, Davis served as Chief of Staff and General Counsel to Senate Minority Floor Leader Steve Ehlmann, as a law clerk for Judge Paul Simon, Missouri Court of Appeals, E.D., and as a legal intern in Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon’s Labor Division.  A 1994 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University where he was Student Government president, Davis received his juris doctorate degree from Washington University in 1997.  He is a current member of the Missouri Bar Association.