Prominent Arkansans to Speak at First Fall Commencement in 40 years
This semester marks the first fall commencement ceremony at the University of Arkansas since 1971. The Dec. 17 ceremony will feature speeches by prominent Arkansans, officials said.
Ernest Green, a member of the Little Rock Nine, and former Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt will both receive honorary degrees from the university. Green will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters degree while Hammerschmidt will receive a Doctor of Laws degree. Both are expected to address the graduates.
The fall ceremony, unlike spring commencement, will include graduates from all six colleges, graduate school, and law school, said Dave Dawson, registrar.
“Six-hundred to 700 students will walk,” Dawson said.
The UA rebooted the fall commencement ceremony in response to student requests and a growing student population, said Steve Voorhies, university relations representative.
“This is something students have asked for for many years,” he said. “I’ve gotten calls from parents who have seemed very pleased.”
Green was the first African-American to graduate from Little Rock Central High School, a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and an assistant secretary of Labor under President Jimmy Carter.
Green was also a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s board of directors, chairman of the African Development Foundation and managing director of Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital until his retirement in 2009, according to a UA press release.
Hammerschmidt served as the first Arkansas republican elected to Congress since 1877, worked for veterans benefits and was a ranking member on the House Public Works Committee.
Hammerschmidt also flew 217 combat missions in World War II, sponsored a bill to make the Buffalo River the nations first national river and was a member of an American delegation that witnessed Egypt’s Anwar el-Sadat address the Israeli parliament in 1977, according to a UA press release.