University of Missouri-Kansas City Spring 2012 Commencement Ceremonies

UMKC graduates more than 1,800 students in Class of 2012

The University of Missouri-Kansas City will celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates beginning on May 3. This year, an estimated 1,869 students will graduate at 12 different ceremonies. Following are the dates, times, locations and featured speakers for this year’s ceremonies:

Thursday, May 3

School of Nursing

5 p.m., Swinney Recreation Center

Commencement Address: Rennae Ellis, Maternal Child Nurse, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City – Ellis received her B.S.N. from UMKC in 1998, and this year was named the school’s Alumna of the Year. Working to reduce infant mortality rates among the African American population, she is actively involved with the Black Health Care Coalition. Ellis has served as membership chair of the Greater Kansas City Black Nurses Association and was its 2009 Nurse of the Year.

Friday, May 4

School of Computing and Engineering

10 a.m., Swinney Recreation Center

Commencement Address: Don Curtis, Department Manager, HDR Engineering Inc. – Managing the firm’s Kansas City office, Curtis oversees department activities in the states of Missouri and Kansas. Prior to joining HDR, he served in the United States Army attaining the rank of Colonel. Curtis commanded two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Districts and has over 25 years of experience in the design, construction and operation of military facilities and civil works infrastructure.

College of Arts and Sciences

1 p.m., Swinney Recreation Center

4 p.m., Swinney Recreation Center, UMKC Volker Campus

Commencement Address: Mike Keefe, editorial cartoonist and 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Journalism awardee – Keefe received his B.A. and M.A. degrees at UMKC while also teaching Math in the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences. Keefe, whose work is syndicated by Cagle, was cited by the Pulitzer Prize judges for his “widely ranging cartoons that employ a loose, expressive style to send strong, witty messages.”

Henry W. Bloch School of Management

7 p.m., Swinney Recreation Center, UMKC Volker Campus

Commencement Address: Benno Schmidt, interim president and CEO, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation – Schmidt is among the world’s leading innovators in primary, secondary and tertiary education. He is chairman of the Council on Aid to Education, a not-for-profit organization that provides assessment and strategic planning services to colleges and universities both in the United States and internationally. He also serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY), the largest urban public university in the world.

Saturday, May 5

School of Education

10 a.m., Swinney Recreation Center, UMKC Volker Campus

Commencement Address: Dr. Joseph Seabrooks, Jr., president, Metropolitan Community Colleges-Penn Valley – Seabrooks became president of MCC-Penn Valley in April, 2011. He joined MCC in October, 2007 as president of MCC-Blue River. Seabrooks came to MCC from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, where he was assistant vice chancellor for student affairs. Prior to Fayetteville, Seabrooks served at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for more than a decade, including time as director of Minority Student Affairs. Seabrooks completed his higher education at UMKC, where he began as a student in 1989.

Conservatory of Music and Dance

10 a.m., Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Commencement Address: Julia Irene Kauffman, Chairman and CEO, Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation and Chairman, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts Board of Directors – Kauffman has been a longtime advocate for the arts, entrepreneurship and education in Kansas City. Her sustained leadership of the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation and her vision and leadership in establishing the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Todd Bolender Center for the Kansas City Ballet have been transformational to Kansas City. Kauffman has served as a UMKC Trustee and as a board member at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

School of Pharmacy

1 p.m., Swinney Recreation Center

Commencement Address: Heather Lyons-Burney, Compounding and Clinical Pharmacist at Your Pharmacist, LLC, in Branson, Mo. – Lyons-Burney was awarded her Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from the UMKC School of Pharmacy in 1994. She is the former owner of Branson Drugs in Branson, Mo. and is the immediate past president of the Missouri Pharmacy Association. She is a board member of the UMKC Pharmacy Foundation and serves as the volunteer coordinator for dispensary and on-site lab services for Faith Community Health in Branson.

School of Biological Sciences

1 p.m., White Recital Hall, James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, UMKC Volker Campus

Remarks: Lawrence A. Dreyfus, Ph.D., Dean, UMKC School of Biological Sciences – Dr. Dreyfus became Dean of the School of Biological Sciences in 2003 and is also a Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Biophysics. The focus of his research is to define a better understanding of how bacterial toxins function as virulence factors.

School of Law

4 p.m., Swinney Recreation Center, UMKC Volker Campus

Commencement Address: The Honorable Patricia Breckenridge, Supreme Court of Missouri – Judge Breckenridge received her Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia. From 1990-2007, Judge Breckenridge served as judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District serving as Chief Judge from 1998-2000. In 2007, Judge Breckenridge was appointed to the Missouri Supreme Court and was retained in the 2008 general election for a 12-year term ending in 2020. Judge Breckenridge is the recipient of many honors and awards including Women Lawyers’ Of Greater St. Louis honoree, Association of Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City Judicial Recognition Award.

School of Dentistry

7 p.m., Swinney Recreation Center, UMKC Volker Campus

Remarks: Marsha A. Pyle, D.D.S., M.Ed., Dean, UMKC School of Dentistry – Dr. Pyle joined the dental school in 2009, coming to UMKC from the School of Dental Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She has held numerous board and leadership positions on national, state and local organizations and has been recognized for her work in curriculum innovation.

Thursday, May 24

School of Medicine

4 p.m., Kansas City Music Hall, 301 W. 13th St.

Remarks: Betty Drees, M.D., Dean and Professor of Medicine; and Mary Anne Jackson, M.D., Chief of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Section at Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics, Professor of Pediatrics at the UMKC School of Medicine – Dr. Drees was named Interim Dean of the School of Medicine in 2001 and appointed as Dean in 2003. Dr. Drees has served as chair of the Governing Council of the American Medical Association Section on Medical Schools and served on the Women in Medicine Coordinating Committee for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Dr. Jackson is a 1978 graduate of the UMKC School of Medicine and the school’s 2012 Take Wing Award honoree. Dr. Jackson’s research focuses on strategies to reduce the incidence of hospital acquired infection, treatment of antibiotic resistant infection and vaccine implementation and education. She has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters and is the co-editor of the 7th edition of the Appleton and Lange Question and Answer Pediatrics text. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a fellow in Infectious Disease Society of America and the American Pediatric Society.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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