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More Than 2,500 Degrees to Be Granted at MU Commencement Ceremonies

Lawyer W. H. “Bert” Bates and Civil Rights Advocates Frankie Muse Freeman and Robert Parris Moses to be awarded honorary degrees

Dec. 09, 2016

Story Contact(s):
Jeff Sossamon, sossamonj@missouri.edu, 573-882-3346

By RoseAnn Sorce

COLUMBIA, Mo. – During the weekend of Dec. 16-18, 2,400 students will celebrate the culmination of their academic achievements during fall commencement ceremonies at the University of Missouri. Throughout the weekend, MU officials will award 2,563 degrees, including 1,911 bachelor’s degrees, 488 master’s degrees, 151 doctoral degrees, 3 professional degrees and 10 education specialists’ degrees. Officials also will recognize 346 students graduating with honors and will present esteemed lawyer and philanthropist W.H. “Bert” Bates and civil rights advocates Frankie Muse Freeman and Robert Parris Moses with honorary degrees.

“Celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates is a long-standing tradition at Mizzou,” said Pelema Morrice, vice provost for enrollment management at MU. “I’m looking forward to sharing commencement weekend with University of Missouri faculty, staff, students and their families.”

During the Honors Ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17, honorary degrees will be presented to Bates, Freeman and Moses. This year’s honorees join the ranks of 402 others awarded honorary degrees from MU since 1892. Past honorees include President Harry S. Truman, author Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), newsman Walter Cronkite and singer Sheryl Crow.

Bates is best known for his longstanding record of civic, philanthropic and legal service. After graduating from MU in 1949, he attended the University of Michigan Law School where he received a juris doctorate. In addition to being a successful lawyer at Lathrop & Gage LLP’s Kansas City office, Bates served on the boards or governing bodies of 25 entities, two banks, 15 charitable organizations, seven professional organizations and three government entities. Most notably, Bates served on the University of Missouri Board of Curators for a six-year term and was later elected president. In recognition of Bates’ broad range of activities, he has been honored with 14 awards for his contributions, including four from bar associations and five from the University of Missouri. In 1999, Bates was touted as one of 24 “Living Legends” of Kansas City by Ingram’s Magazine.

As the first African American woman to practice law in Missouri, Frankie Muse Freeman is known for her commitment to civil and human rights and racial justice. After joining the civil rights movement in 1954, she served in various roles, including as lead counsel in the landmark 1954 NAACP suit against the St. Louis Housing Authority. In 1964, she was appointed by President Johnson to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which she did for 16 years. During the Carter administration, she served as the first Inspector General of the Community Services Administration. For her efforts, Freeman was inducted into the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame, the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame and the St. Louis Walk of Fame. In addition, Freeman received the Spingarn Award, the NAACP’s highest honor.

Robert Parris Moses is best known for his impact on the Civil Rights Movement and helping to educate low-income students. Moses was involved with various civil rights organizations, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Council (SNCC), the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) and the Freedom Summer project. Moses later founded the Algebra Project in 1982 to help low-income students achieve mathematical literacy. In honor of his success as both a civil rights leader and educator, Moses has received numerous awards, including a 1997 Essence award, a 1997 Peace Award from the War Resisters League and a 1999 Heinz Award.

Many commencement ceremonies include addresses to the graduates from notable speakers.

Speakers at this year’s commencement ceremonies include:

  • Jim Fitterling, president and chief operating officer of the Dow Chemical Company, will speak at the College of Engineering ceremony on Friday, Dec. 16.
  • Mitch Wasden, CEO of MU Health Care, will speak at the School of Health Professions ceremony on Friday, Dec. 16.
  • Juana Summers, editor for CNN Politics, will speak at the School of Journalism ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17.
  • Hank Foley, interim chancellor at MU, will speak at the College of Human Environmental Sciences ceremony on Friday, Dec. 17 and the Sinclair School of Nursing ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17.

Included in the graduating class are more than 400 distance students from 41 states and four countries.

NOTE: A detailed schedule of events and biographical information of the honorary degree recipients are attached. For more information about the commencement ceremonies and Columbia accommodations, please visit http://commencement.missouri.edu.

The University of Missouri commencement ceremonies scheduled on Saturday, Dec. 17 will share parking with the Women’s and Men’s basketball games scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. respectively.

A shuttle bus will run from 1 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17 from Truman’s Landing parking lot (located on South Providence Road near the MU Research Reactor) to the corner of Champions and Tiger Avenue.  The shuttle bus runs approximately every 15 minutes. For more information, please visit http://commencement.missouri.edu/events.php

Selected commencement ceremonies will be live-streamed. For streaming information, please visit: http://commencement.missouri.edu/live/index.php.

MU Fall 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 in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources will have a separate commencement ceremony. The Schools of Law, Medicine and the Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Education do not hold commencement ceremonies in December. All ceremonies will be live streamed.

Friday, December 16

Online Commencement
Website: http://online.missouri.edu/commencement

Graduate Studies
1 p.m.
Hearnes Center 

School of Natural Resources
2 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium
Speaker: Sara Parker Pauley, first female director of the Missouri Department of Conservation

College of Engineering
4 p.m.
Hearnes Center
Speaker: Jim Fitterling, president and chief operating officer of the Dow Chemical Company

College of Human Environmental Sciences
5 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium
Speakers: Hank Foley, interim chancellor, and Julie Middleton, former director of organizational development and extension at MU

College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
7 p.m.
Hearnes Center
Speaker: Darryl Chatman, former deputy director of Missouri Department of Agriculture

School of Health Professions
7:30 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium
Speaker: Mitch Wasden, CEO of MU Health Care

Saturday, December 17

Honors Convocation
8:30 a.m.
Jesse Auditorium

Trulaske College of Business
Noon
Hearnes Center
Speaker: Dave Johnson, chairman of Maxus Properties located in Kansas City, Missouri

School of Journalism
1 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium
Speaker: Juana Summers, CNN Politics editor

College of Arts and Science
3 p.m.
Hearnes Center
Speaker: Chief Master Sergeant William Harrington, superintendent for the Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development

Sinclair School of Nursing
4 p.m.
Jesse Auditorium
Speaker: Henry “Hank” Foley, interim chancellor, University of Missouri

Sunday, December 18

ROTC Commissioning of Officers
Time and location to be determined

Honorary Degrees

 W.H. “Bert” Bates

W.H. “Bert” Bates is best known for his longstanding record of civic, philanthropic and legal service. Bates’ tireless work ethic has garnered him recognition as well as numerous honors, awards and leadership positions on boards and committees.

Following high school, Bates entered the United States Army and served overseas during World War II with the Second Infantry Division. Upon returning, he enrolled at the University of Missouri, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1949 with a degree in political science. He then attended the University of Michigan Law School where he was senior editor of the Law Review and president of Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.

After receiving a juris doctorate in 1952, Bates worked as an associate of Lathrop and Norquist, now Lathrop and Gage. His early practice was broad. Once called a “true man for all seasons” by prominent business executive Irv Hockaday, Bates defended clients in personal injury cases, wrote wills and trusts, and assisted in the passage of economic development legislation. After Lathrop and Norquist merged with Gage and Tucker, Bates became more involved in the firm’s business and corporate practice.

Bates’ civic endeavors also are far-reaching. In 1982, he was appointed by Gov. Kit Bond to serve on the University of Missouri Board of Curators for a six-year term. During Bates’ tenure, the curators accomplished many significant undertakings, such as the development of an educational exchange program with the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and the creation of Lowry Mall on the MU campus, where thousands of students travel daily. Bates was elected president of the Board of Curators in 1987.

Bates has served on numerous committees and boards, including the Kansas City chapter of the Red Cross, the Missouri State Chamber of Commerce (president), the Missouri Bar (president), the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (chair and board member) and the Hawthorne Foundation (chair). In total, Bates has a remarkable record serving on the boards or governing bodies of 25 entities, two banks, 15 charitable organizations, seven professional organizations and three government entities.

In recognition of Bates’ range of activities and his service to local, regional, statewide and national groups, he has been honored with 14 awards for his civic and professional contributions, including four from bar associations and five from the University of Missouri.

Most notably, he received the first Geyer Public Service Award in 1991. The annual award recognizes one state-elected official and one citizen who exemplify great dedication to higher education.

In 1996, Bates was awarded the Oxford Cup, Beta Theta Pi’s highest national award; in 2009, the Outstanding Kansas Citian Award from the Kansas City Rotary; and in 2015 the Champion of Children Award from the LEAP Foundation.

Bates was touted as one of 24 “Living Legends” of Kansas City by Ingram’s Magazine in 1999.

Today, Bates continues to serve as senior counsel in the corporate department of Lathrop & Gage LLP’s Kansas City office. He survives his wife of many years, Joy Godbehere Bates, and is the father of Joy Ann Bates Boyle and William B. Bates. In addition, he has three grandchildren: Braden, Brittan and Tucker Bates.

Frankie Muse Freeman

Frankie Muse Freeman is best known for her longstanding record of civil rights advocacy and legal service. Freeman’s commitment to civil and human rights, racial justice, and family values has guided her from the rural courtrooms of America to the United States Supreme Court and has made a lasting impact on the state of racial equality and freedom in America.

Born Marie Frankie Muse, Freeman was born into an educated family. Her relatives included established lawyers Charles Sumner Muse and Clarence Muse. Freeman grew up in Danville, Illinois, where she attended Hampton Institute from 1933 to 1936. During this time, she married Shelby T. Freeman before attending Howard University Law School in 1944.

In 1947, Freeman graduated second in her class and, in 1949, she began her celebrated legal career when she opened her private practice in St. Louis. This made her one of the first African American women to practice law in Missouri.

By 1954, Freeman was engaged in the civil rights movement. She served as lead counsel in the landmark 1954 NAACP suit against the St. Louis Housing Authority and successfully brought an end to legal racial discrimination in public housing. She continued to fight fearlessly against racial discrimination when in 1958 she became a charter member of the Missouri advisory committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In this role, Freeman provided NAACP counsel to activists demonstrating against discrimination at Jefferson Bank in Jefferson City.

Her legal career reached the national stage when, in 1964, she was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Freeman was the first female member and later was reappointed by Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. She served a total of 16 years, and during the Carter administration, she served as the first inspector general of the Community Services Administration.

In 1982, Freeman returned to St. Louis where she formed the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights. The group was established to supervise the federal government’s enforcement of laws prohibiting discrimination.

For her efforts, Freeman has received various awards and honors. In 1990, she was inducted into the National Bar Association’s Hall of Fame and, in 2002, she was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. In 2011, Freeman received the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest honor; in 2015, the American Bar Association presented her with the Spirit of Excellence Award.

Locally, Freeman was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce presented Freeman with the Right Arm of St. Louis Award.

After practicing law for more than 40 years, Freeman retired in 2008. However, she remains active. In 2015, President Barack Obama appointed her to the Commission on Presidential Scholars. She is also the author of A Song of Faith and Hope: The Life of Frankie Muse Freeman.

Robert P. Moses

Robert Parris Moses is best known for his impact on the civil rights movement and the education of low-income students. Moses’ efforts have provided greater freedom and equality for all.

Born in Harlem, New York, Moses attended the elite, public Stuyvesant High School before receiving a scholarship to attend Hamilton College. After graduating in 1956, he attended Harvard University where he earned a master’s in philosophy in 1957.

Moses became interested in the civil rights struggle in 1959 when he assisted Bayard Rustin with the second Youth March for Integrated Schools in Washington, D.C. Rustin encouraged Moses to expand his involvement, suggesting in 1960 that he use his summer teaching break to go to Atlanta and work with Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. While in Atlanta, Moses organized a youth march to promote integrated education and also began his involvement with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Council (SNCC). On behalf of SNCC, he traveled to Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. While in Mississippi, Moses met Amzie Moore, a local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) activist, who encouraged him to assist with voter registration efforts in 1961.

Moses quickly advanced from volunteer to special field secretary for voter registration at the SNCC. In 1962, he became the strategic coordinator and project director of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), a coalition of civil rights organizations in Mississippi. While working with the COFO, Moses encouraged local leaders such as Frannie Lou Hamer to deepen their participation in the civil rights movements. Hamer would later become one of SNCC’s most instrumental organizers.

In 1964, Moses managed the voter registration campaign in the Freedom Summer project, a volunteer campaign with the goal of registering as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi. A year later, he helped establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, created to contest the legitimacy of the Mississippi Democratic Party, which did not allow African-American participation.

Shortly after, Moses resigned from his positions with the SNCC and COFO and began participating in the campaign against the Vietnam War. In 1968, Moses moved to Tanzania to teach mathematics. He returned to the United States in 1976 and enrolled at Harvard University where he began graduate work in the philosophy of mathematics. While working toward a doctoral degree, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, an award presented to individuals who show “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”

After learning from his daughter that her school did not offer algebra, Moses founded the Algebra Project in 1982. The project strives to help low-income students achieve mathematical literacy and has expanded to 28 sites in 10 states.

In honor of his success as both a civil rights leader and educator, Moses has received numerous awards, most notably, a 1997 Essence award, a 1997 Peace Award from the War Resisters League and a 1999 Heinz Award in Human Condition.

Moses teaches mathematics and serves as the president of the Algebra Project.

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