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Two Leaders in Science, Education Receive Honorary Degrees

MU will award 5,532 diplomas during spring commencement ceremonies.

May 04, 2010

Story Contact(s):
Christian Basi, BasiC@missouri.edu, 573-882-4430

The University of Missouri will award more than 5,500 degrees to graduates during the Spring commencement ceremonies.

The University of Missouri will award more than 5,500 degrees to graduates during the Spring commencement ceremonies.

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­­­– The University of Missouri will honor Leon Russell and Eugenie Scott, two MU graduates who have dedicated their lives to research and education, with honorary degrees at the honors ceremony on Saturday, May 15 as part of the spring commencement ceremonies at MU. An honorary degree is one of the highest honors the university can bestow.

Russell, who received his bachelor’s degree in animal science and doctor of veterinary medicine degree from MU, has researched and taught subjects such as public health, toxicology and zoonotic diseases, which is an illness that affects both humans and animals, such as rabies. His focus in zoonotic diseases led to the development of an oral vaccine that helped control coyote and fox rabies in Texas. Russell is a faculty member at Texas A&M University and was the first American elected president of the World Veterinary Association (WVA).

Scott, who received her doctorate in anthropology from MU, is a researcher, educator and author who has spent her career defending science and how it is taught in schools. As the executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), she has sought to promote accuracy and improve the public understanding of evolution by mediating between those dedicated to religion and science and recognizing a relationship between them.

During commencement weekend, MU will award 5,532 degrees, including 4,015 bachelor’s degrees, 931 master’s degrees, 258 doctorates, 101 medical degrees, 64 veterinary medicine degrees, 139 law degrees, and 24 education specialist degrees.

“The University of Missouri prides itself on producing well-prepared graduates who lead and innovate in their professions,” said Ann Korschgen, vice provost for enrollment at MU. “By doing so, our graduates are following the example of our many distinguished alumni as they work to improve the state of Missouri, the United States and the world.”

Notable speakers at this year’s commencement ceremonies include:

  • U.S. Senator Christopher Bond will speak at the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources ceremony at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 15 at Jesse Auditorium in Jesse Hall.
  • Emmy Award-winning correspondent for CBS News Bill Geist will speak at the School of Journalism ceremony at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 15 at Mizzou Arena.
  • UM System President Gary Forsee will speak at the College of Engineering ceremony at 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 14 at Jesse Auditorium in Jesse Hall.
  • Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Alexander Garza will speak at the School of Medicine ceremony at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, May 15 at Jesse Auditorium in Jesse Hall.
  • Superintendent of Columbia Public Schools Chris Belcher will speak at the College of Education ceremony at 5 p.m., Friday, May 14 at Mizzou Arena.

NOTE: A detailed schedule of events and biographical information on Russell and Scott are attached. For more information on the commencement ceremonies and Columbia accommodations, please visit http://commencement.missouri.edu.

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MU Spring Commencement

Schedule of Events

NOTE: Students in the School of Social Work will participate in the College of Human Environmental Sciences ceremony. The School of Natural Resources will hold a separate commencement ceremony from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

Friday, May 14

College of Veterinary Medicine

1 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: John R. Clifford, deputy administrator, U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services-Veterinary Services. 

College of Human Environmental Sciences

2 p.m.

Hearnes Center

Speaker: Stephen Jorgensen, dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences

Sinclair School of Nursing

4 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Student Speakers: Andrew White, BSN candidate, Andrew Navarro, BSN candidate, and Susan Stroder, MSN candidate.   

College of Education

5 p.m.

Mizzou Arena

Speaker: Chris Belcher, superintendent of Columbia Public Schools

College of Engineering

6:30 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: Gary Forsee, president of the University of Missouri System

Graduate School

8 p.m.

Hearnes Center

Speaker: George Justice, vice provost for Advanced Studies and dean of the Graduate School

Saturday, May 15

Honors Ceremony

9 a.m.

Francis Quadrangle, MU Campus;

Speakers: Leon Russell, president of the World Veterinary Association, and Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, Honorary Degree Recipients

In the event of inclement weather, the Honors Ceremony will be held in Mizzou Arena. 

School of Natural Resources

12 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: Mark Templeton, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

College of Arts and Science

1 p.m.

Hearnes Center

Speaker: Brady Deaton, chancellor of the University of Missouri

School of Medicine

2:30 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: Alexander Garza, assistant secretary for health affairs and chief medical officer, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Trulaske College of Business

3 p.m.

Mizzou Arena

Speaker: Daryl Smith, vice president-Human Resources, Galls, Inc.

College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

6 p.m.

Hearnes Center

Speaker: U.S. Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri 

School of Health Professions

7 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: Judy Baker, regional director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

School of Journalism

8 p.m.

Mizzou Arena

Speaker: Bill Geist, Emmy Award-winning correspondent for CBS News and a New York Times best-selling author

Sunday, May 16

ROTC Commissioning of Officers

12 p.m.

Mizzou Arena

Speaker: Gen. Barney Forsythe, president of Westminster College

School of Law

1:30 p.m.

Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall

Speaker: Mavis Thompson, president of the National Bar Association

Leon Russell Biography

Leon Russell has dedicated his life to teaching and researching public health, toxicology and zoonotic diseases, which are illnesses that affect both humans and animals, such as rabies.

Since 1959, Russell has been a member of the faculty at Texas A&M University, the same institution where he received his doctorate in microbiology. Prior to attending Texas A&M, he received his master’s degree in public health from Tulane University, and a bachelor’s degree in animal science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Missouri.

Early in his career, Russell saw the possibilities for veterinarians in public health.  Since then, he has worked to integrate veterinarians into the food safety and public health arenas. Russell has built a partnership between the human and animal health fields to improve food safety and the security issues that come with zoonotic diseases, such as rabies. Ahead of his time, he advocated for veterinary involvement in advancing ideas that protect people from animals and the environment, an idea that has shaped a new generation of veterinarians to address issues such as bioterrorism and food-borne illnesses.

Much of Russell’s research has focused on zoonotic diseases, such as rabies.  This includes his work developing an oral vaccine for coyotes, which helped defeat the growing coyote and fox rabies epidemics in western and southern Texas. 

As an internationally recognized expert in public health, Russell has served as a national adviser to governments, academic institutions and global organizations for food safety, toxicology, bioterrorism and epidemiology consultation. He has served on multiple committees of the United States Department of Agriculture to study food safety and rabies prevention.

In 2005, Russell became the first American to be elected president of the World Veterinary Association (WVA), the world’s oldest international veterinary organization.  With nearly 100 member countries, the WVA works with other international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Prior to serving the WVA, he was president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Russell has received recognition from many organizations such as the American College of Veterinary Preventative Medicine and the American Veterinary Epidemiology Society. In 1994, he was awarded the General James A. McCallam award for distinguished service by the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. Russell has published more than 30 articles and book chapters on his work and presented at more than 100 national and international conferences. 

 

Eugenie Scott Biography

Researcher and educator Eugenie Scott has dedicated her life to defending science and how it is taught in schools. 

Scott has served as the executive director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) since 1987.  Under her leadership, NCSE has become the most influential organization in the battle over how evolution is taught in the United States.   

Scott, a Wisconsin native, received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  She went on to receive her doctorate in anthropology from the University of Missouri in 1974. Prior to working with NCSE, Scott taught at the University of Kentucky, the University of Colorado and California State University-Hayward.

Over the course of her career, Scott has become the leading critic of creationism and intelligent design in the United States and a relentless advocate for the preservation of teaching evolution in schools.  In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to teach creationism in the public schools.  However, this decision did not mark the end of the dispute.

The debate over evolution, creationism and intelligent design is religious in nature, and Scott has been a courageous advocate. Despite the sensitivity of the subject, she has brought together scientists, educators, religious groups, skeptics and public citizens to defend science in public schools.  Scott has defended evolution against claims that it is “godless” and mediated between those dedicated to religion and science by recognizing a relationship between the two.  Throughout the course of her career, she has sought to promote accuracy and improve the public understanding of evolution.

Scott has written many works on the topic of evolution. In addition to the more than 100 refereed publications, book chapters, and book and film reviews, she has authored two published books, Not in Our Classrooms and Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction, which have been printed multiple times.   

A tireless advocate and researcher, Scott has been recognized by many organizations for her accomplishments. In 2002, she became the first recipient of the outstanding service award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Scott also was the first recipient of the Stephen Jay Gould Prize from the Society of the Study of Evolution. She holds honorary degrees from McGill University, Ohio State University, Mount Holyoke College, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Rutgers College, the University of Mexico and now, the University of Missouri.  Scott has received many awards from institutions such as the California Academy of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Cell Biology, the National Science Board and the American Anthropological Society.

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