Tuesday, May 17, 2022
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Campus History: Commencement address speakers

Commencement Speakers
Commencement Speakers

Through the years, UMKC has seen many students walk across the stage for commencement. UMKC has welcomed many important commencement speakers. Here are a few of the commencement speakers who have come to talk to UMKC students about take the next step into their future.

In 2006 Dr. Leodis Davis was the commencement speaker for the winter practices.

Davis graduated from then University of Kansas City (UKC) in 1956. Davis became a well-known professional in his field of biochemistry. He taught at universities such as Tennessee State University, Howard University Medical School, and University of Iowa. During his posts at the University of Iowa he was chemistry department chair, senior provost and later dean of the graduate college. Davis won UMKC’s alumnus of the year in 1986. A scholarship has been established from him and his wife for students in the College of Art and Sciences.

In the spring commencement of 2007 Sen. Claire McCaskill came to speak to students. McCaskill attended college and law school at the University of Missouri—Columbia. After graduating law school she was a clerk for the Missouri Court of Appeals in Kansas City.

In 2006 McCaskill was the first woman elected to the United States Senate from Missouri. Later in 2009 she became chairwoman of Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee.

The winter commencement in 2007 Mike Sanders’ Jackson County Executive came to talk to the graduating seniors. Sanders is an alumnus of UMKC. Sanders received a Bachelors of Art in Philosophy then pursued a law degree at Ohio State University School of Law.

As a Gulf War veteran he completed his law degree in 1994. He then became Asst. Prosecuting Attorney. Sanders received Rookie Prosecutor of the Year award, Top Prosecutor of the Year from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.

Spring 2008 commencement speech was presented by Dr. Gary Seabaugh. Seabaugh is an alumnus of UMKC. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Masters of Arts degree in education. Later, Seabaugh received his doctorate from the University of Kansas in Developmental and Child Psychology. Seabaugh received Alumnus Achievement Award from UMKC and Alumnus of the Year from Johnson County Community College. Later, he received Award of Merit by the Association of Advancement of Behavior Therapy and he appears in Who’s Who.

Winter 2008 commencement was lead by alumnus Damon K. Bryant. Bryant is president of the Alumni Association and is now Vice President of Creative Services for WDAF Fox Channel 4. Bryant has received the Dying the Odds Alumni Award, 12 Regional Emmy Awards, honors from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Missouri Broadcasters Association and Kansas Broadcasters Association.

Stanley E. Banks was the commencement speaker for the 2009 spring commencement. Banks graduated from UMKC in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts and later with a Masters of Arts in 1991.

Banks is now Assistant Professor and Artist in Residence at Avila University. In 2008, he received the Defying the Odds Alumni Award.

In addition, Banks has had many published works such as Blue Beat Syncopation. He has received many literary awards such as The Langston Hughes Prize for Poetry, National Endowment of Arts Fellowship and The Writers Place Award.

Terrill Petri gave the commencement speech for the winter commencement in 2009. Petri received a Bachelor of Arts in commucations Studies in 1983 from UMKC. She received Alumnus of the Year Award in 2003.

May of 2010 commencement Dr. Tina Hines gave the commencement speech. Dr. Tina Hines is the Thompson/Missouri Endowed Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean of Research. Hines a B.A. in French, B.S. in Nursing, a doctorate in Physiology, a doctorate in Obstetrics and a doctorate in Neuroscience.

She teaches undergraduate Anatomy and Physiology. She is participating in research about the nervous system, cardiovascular function during pregnancy and prenatal environments relating to other topics such as aging and obesity.

Winter 2010 commencement, Theresa Garza Ruiz gave the commencement speech. Ruiz is alumna from UMKC. Ruiz received a degree in criminal justice from UMKC and is working on her Masters in public administration with an emphasis on government relations and public management from Park University. Ruiz was first elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010 as County Legislator At Large.

The most recent commencement, Dr. Joni Walton came to speak to graduates. Walton is Assistant Professor in Nursing at Carrollton College. Also she is certified as nurse specialist in medical-surgical nursing and respiratory therapist. In addition, she participates in research in subjects of spirituality in patients with chronic illnesses.

UMKC commencement is time of celebration of new minds representing their alma mater and growing as individuals. Many important individuals have come speak to graduates and given so much to their community and their fields.


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