807 to Receive Degrees at Fall 2017 Commencement Ceremonies


Southeast Missouri State University will hold its fall commencement ceremonies Dec. 16 during which 807 students – 620 undergraduates and 187 master’s degree and specialist candidates – will receive their degrees.

Southeast will hold two commencement ceremonies in the Show Me Center. Candidates in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Health and Human Services will participate in a ceremony at 10 a.m. Candidates in the Harrison College of Business, College of Education and College of Science, Technology and Agriculture will take part in a 2 p.m. ceremony.

Dr. H. Hamner Hill, interim dean of the College of Health and Human Services, will deliver the 10 a.m. address, and Dr. Walt Lilly, professor of biology, will present the 2 p.m. address.

In total, 141 students will graduate with honors — 20 will graduate summa cum laude (3.9 to 4.0 cumulative grade point average); 36 will graduate magna cum laude (3.75 to 3.89 cumulative grade point average); 82 will graduate cum laude (3.5 to 3.74 cumulative grade point average); and three will graduate with honors in associate degrees. Students who have earned Latin Honors, Academic Distinction in the Department of the Major or completed the Jane Stephens Honors Program, will have that information displayed below their name on the scoreboard as they cross the stage during their commencement ceremony, as well as printed in the program.

Also recognized during the ceremony will be six students graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average and five Honors Scholars.

Dr. H. Hamner Hill

Dr. Hamner Hill

Hill is the interim dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Southeast. In his 32 years at the University, he has served as chair of the Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religion; director of the University Studies program; chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion; interim chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology; and interim chair of the Department of Art.

Hill is a philosopher by training and avocation. He received his undergraduate degree in philosophy from the College of William and Mary in 1978, where he also received his juris doctor in 1981. He received his master’s degree in philosophy in 1983 and his doctoral degree in philosophy in 1985, both from Washington University in St. Louis. Specializing in the philosophy of law, with a sub-specialization in normative conflict and legal lacunae, Hill has published numerous articles in journals, including Law and Philosophy, the Archiv für Rechts und Socialphilosophie, The Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence and the William and Mary Environmental Law Review. His current research interests are focused on conflicts between domestic environmental protection laws and international trade agreements.

Hill also is active in the intellectual life of Cape Girardeau as a frequent presenter for both the Great Books and Great Decisions programs. He has served for many years on both the Medical Ethics Committee and the Institutional Review Board at SoutheastHealth, and he is the president of the Cape Girardeau Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. He also is a staunch faculty supporter of the Southeast’s women’s soccer team, rarely missing a home game.


Dr. Walt Lilly

Lilly is a native of Houston, Missouri. He earned his Bachelor of Science in life sciences from Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) in 1975 and his doctoral degree in plant biology from the University of Minnesota in 1979. He taught three years at Lake Forest College in Illinois before joining the biology faculty at Southeast Missouri State University in 1982. During his 39-year career, Lilly has taught courses ranging from freshman biology to cellular and molecular biology to health physics.

Lilly is a recipient of multiple awards for teaching, research and service at Southeast, including the 2002 Southeast Faculty Merit Award and the 2013 Southeast PRIDE Award. He is also the recipient of the 2002 Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

His research is focused on understanding the role of protein degradation in the normal nutrition of mushroom-producing fungi, especially those that decay wood. He and his colleagues have made contributions to understanding the physiology of nutrient recycling in these fungi, and in the biochemistry and genomics of the enzymes responsible for nutrient mobilization. As a part of his research program, he has mentored more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students. He has published more than 30 papers in the field, and he has been a principal investigator on National Science Foundation-funded research grants totaling more than $1.25 million.

Lilly also has been active in departmental and University governance in the areas of curriculum, planning, program review and budget throughout his career. He is the University’s Radiation Safety Officer, and he is a widely-recognized expert in contaminated facility decommissioning.

Outside of the University, Lilly has interests in railroads and railroad history, and he is a licensed amateur radio operator. He has been married to his wife, Diana, for 42 years and they have two grown children, Terri and Michael, both of whom are Southeast alumni.