The annual commencement excitement is building up for the Class of 2008 at California State University, Fresno this week. Finals finish Thursday and preparation is under way for individual events surrounding the 97th University Commencement at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 17, at the Save Mart Center.

A variety of convocations and celebrations – including the Hooding Ceremony for graduate students Friday at 7:30 p.m. – will be held on campus throughout the day Friday as well as after Commencement on Saturday. A flyover by the California Air National Guard will occur at 1:30 p.m. for the Air Force ROTC Commissioning Ceremony at the Leon S. and Peter P. Peters Educational Center west of the Save Mart Center.

A full schedule of Commencement activities is linked below.

A record number of graduates will receive degrees this year. More than 5,100 students are eligible for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, which will be conferred at Commencement Saturday by President John D. Welty.

The Division of Student Affairs reports that 4,341 students completed their work in the summer, fall or spring semesters and are eligible for bachelor’s degrees and 790 students are eligible for master’s degrees. Additionally, 13 students will receive doctoral degrees.

The Class of 2008 includes 23 baccalaureate students who earned all A’s and 148 students who earned the summa cum laude distinction (“with highest praise”) for GPA of 3.9 to 4.0. Also, there are 26 students graduating with Special Majors (12 different majors) and 46 Smittcamp Family Honors College President’s Scholars who are graduating with university honors.

Three new elements headline this year’s Commencement:

  • Conferring of the first Doctor of Physical Therapy degree
  • The first live Web streaming of the Hooding Ceremony and the main Commencement exercise – allowing those unable to attend the events to view it live online via links at <>

The first corporate naming of an event with the Latino Commencement Celebration securing a title sponsorship from Valley Yellow Pages. The event will be known as “Valley Yellow Pages presents the 32nd Annual Latino Commencement Celebration,” said Kent Karsevar, development director for the College of Social Science, which organizes the celebration. Also, Rosario Marin, California’s State and Consumer Services Agency Secretary, will be honored at the event.

A special feature of Commencement is awarding the university’s top two student awards – the President’s Medal to the top undergraduate, announced Saturday morning, and the University Graduate Medal winners, announced Friday night. Eighteen Dean’s Medalists will be honored.

The California State University and Fresno State will confer an honorary doctoral degree on Fresno businessman and philanthropist Pete P. Peters. He will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Trustees Peter Mehas and Jennifer Reimer will represent the CSU.

A posthumous bachelor’s degree in French will be awarded to Robert Wheeler Luce who succumbed to illness in December. A private ceremony with family and friends was held May 13.

Approximately 78 retiring professors will be honored by the conferral of emeritus status, including Dr. Paul Harvey Wallace, Department of Criminology, whose emeritus status will be conferred posthumously. Wallace died in August.

Dr. Jeronima Echeverria, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will present the top faculty honor, the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, to Dr. Julie Olson-Buchanan, a professor of human resource management and chair of the Department of Management in the Craig School of Business at Fresno State.

Four other professors will be honored for excellence. They are Dr. Mary “Cricket” Barakzai, Nursing – Outstanding Use of Technology in Education; Dr. Saeed Attar, Chemistry – Exemplary Graduate Teaching and Mentoring; Dr. Matthew Jendian, Sociology – Inspiring Contributions in Faculty Service; and Angelica Carpenter, Henry Madden Library – Distinguished Achievement in Research, Scholarship or Creative Activity.

Recipients of the Promising New Faculty Awards also will be honored: Dr. Thomas Attard, Civil and Geomatics Engineering; David Anthony Durham, English; Betsy Hays, Mass Communication and Journalism; Dr. Thomas Holyoke, Political Science; and Dr. Steven Rocca, Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education.

The flags of 62 countries will adorn the Commencement stage to represent the countries of origin of this year’s graduates. Brian Lummis will sing the National Anthem and Davis Maga will lead the new alumni in singing the Alma Mater to close the ceremony. Both are graduating music majors.


  • Commencement questions – 559.278.2741
  • Schedule and general instructions for grads: <>
  • Live Web stream of hooding and commencement:
  • Purchase DVD copies of video coverage of the following events: University Commencement, Graduate Hooding, Latino Commencement Celebration, and convocations of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development and the Craig School of Business. Call 559.278.4668.

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