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169th Commencement begins with first WKU doctoral, G-SKyTeach graduates

WKU's 169th Commencement began May 13 with the graduate ceremony at Diddle Arena. Additional photos will be posted on the WKU News Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/WKUNews. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

The inaugural graduates of two WKU programs – the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program and the G-SKyTeach program — were recognized Friday night.

The first five graduates of WKU’s first independent doctoral degree — John Baker of Bowling Green, Matthew Constant of Owensboro, Edwin Craft of Roundhill, Kelly Scott Davis of Bowling Green and Angela Gunter of Owensboro — were hooded during the ceremony at Diddle Arena.

Edwin Craft was one of the first five graduates of WKU's Educational Leadership Doctoral Program. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

“In the fall of 2008, WKU admitted its first cohort of doctoral students,” President Gary Ransdell said. “This evening we celebrate the success of our students and faculty as we recognize the first five doctor of education graduates in the history of Western Kentucky University.”

In addition, WKU awarded master’s degrees to 14 students who are the first graduates of the G-SKyTeach program, the graduate extension of WKU’s SKyTeach program. The group completed the teacher preparation curriculum in science and mathematics education and a yearlong residency in Jefferson County schools.

The G-SKyTeach graduates are (including hometown/undergraduate university): mathematics major Michael Brekke of Park City, Utah/University of Utah; physics major Jordan Couzo of Ocoee, Fla./Vanderbilt University; physics major Michael Hale of Omaha, Neb./Iowa State University; chemistry major James Hannon of Union/Northern Kentucky University; chemistry major Nathan Harris of East Lansing, Mich./Michigan State University; physics major Thomas Heath of Calvert City/Murray State University; mathematics major Frank Houston of Lexington/University of Kentucky; chemistry major Matthew Ignash of Troy, Mich./Central Michigan University; chemistry major Courtney Jernigan of White House, Tenn./Georgetown College; physics major Joshua Raper of Louisville/University of Louisville; chemistry major Josiah Roberts of Cincinnati, Ohio/Case Western Reserve University; mathematics major Leah Stanley of Pendleton, Ind./Trevecca Nazarene University; mathematics major Ryan Stephenson of Des Plaines, Ill./Lewis University; and physics major John Wallen of Knoxville, Tenn./University of Tennessee.

“The G-SKyTeach graduates represent WKU’s continuing commitment to developing teacher leaders in mathematics and science throughout the Commonwealth,” Dr. Ransdell said.

Two recipients of a cooperative doctoral degree offered by WKU and University of Louisville also were recognized Friday night – Maria Gomez Garcia of Bowling Green and Ronald Brent Mays of Mayfield.

About 1,800 students were expected to participate in WKU’s 169th Commencement ceremonies – graduate and WKU-Owensboro on Friday night and three undergraduate ceremonies on Saturday. The anticipated number of students eligible for WKU’s May 2011 graduation is 2,078 — 123 associates; 1,478 bachelor’s; 385 master’s, specialist and doctorate; and 92 certificates.

Graduate award recipients

Matthew Constant, one of the doctoral graduates, also received the John D. Minton Award for outstanding graduate student. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

Two of the educational leadership doctoral graduates received other awards Friday night.

Matthew Constant received the John D. Minton Award for outstanding graduate student while Angela D. Gunter was named the outstanding graduate student in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. The Minton award recognizes a graduate student for outstanding contributions to the academic discipline while pursuing a graduate degree at WKU. Dr. Minton, WKU’s first graduate dean, a longtime administrator, history faculty member and the University’s fifth president, died in 2008.

Other outstanding graduate awards were presented to Jeremy Moore of Bowling Green, Master of Business Administration, Gordon Ford College of Business; Matthew Hale of Bowling Green, Master of Arts in Folk Studies, Potter College of Arts & Letters; Ann Epperson of Springfield, Tenn., Master of Science in Geoscience, Ogden College of Science and Engineering; Beth Hawke of Bowling Green, Master of Arts in Leadership Dynamics, University College; and Rachel Friedman of Swansea, Ill., Master of Science in Physical Education, College of Health and Human Services.

Commencement notes

  • Hilltopper Army ROTC cadet John M. Manning, a graduate student from Smithfield, Utah, is one of 15 cadets being commissioned as second lieutenants this weekend.
  • Seven graduate faculty members who are retiring this year were recognized: Dr. Edward Bohlander, Department of Sociology; Dr. John Hagaman, Department of English; Dr. William Pfohl, Department of Psychology; Dr. Retta Poe, Department of Psychology and associate dean of College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; Dr. Dale Smith, Department of Social Work; Dr. Vicki Stayton, School of Teacher Education; and Dr. Luella Teuton, School of Teacher Education.
  • The graduate ceremony included 45 international students from nine countries.
  • Also Friday evening, WKU-Owensboro conducted its first commencement ceremony at Deer Park Elementary School gymnasium. About 60 of WKU-O’s 93 graduates participated. Provost Gordon Emslie and former Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire delivered remarks.

Commencement events continue Saturday

  • For the first time, WKU will conduct three undergraduate ceremonies Saturday at Diddle Arena — 10 a.m. for students in Potter College of Arts & Letters and Gordon Ford College of Business; 2 p.m. for students in College of Health and Human Services and University College; and 6 p.m. for students in Ogden College of Science and Engineering and College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.
  • The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky will conduct its fourth commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday at Van Meter Hall.

Contact: Registrar’s Office, (270) 745-5432.

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