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SWT prepares for December commencement

Date of release: 12/13/02

SAN MARCOS – Texas Railroad Commissioner Charles Matthews, Professor of Social Work Nancy Feyl Chavkin and Texas State University System Regent James L. Sweatt III will be the keynote speakers as Southwest Texas State University caps its fall semester with three separate commencement ceremonies Dec. 20 and 21.

The three will serve as commencement speakers as 1,904 candidates gather in Strahan Coliseum on the SWT campus to receive their degrees.

Matthews will speak during the ceremony to be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20. Candidates from the colleges of Fine Arts and Communication and Liberal Arts will attend the Friday evening ceremony.

Matthews was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in 1994. In November 2000, he won re-election to a second term, receiving the highest number of votes of any commissioner in history. One of his first steps as commissioner was to outline the first reorganization of the commission since its creation in 1891, implementing his vision for a commission that better met the needs of its customers. He successfully led the effort to reorganize the agency by reducing cost and streamlining various departments.

Chavkin will speak during the ceremony to be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 21. Candidates from the colleges of Education, Health Professions, and Science will attend the Saturday morning ceremony.

Last May, Chavkin received the prestigious Piper Professor Award from the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. The awards are given annually to professors to honor distinguished service to teaching at the collegiate level in Texas. In 1990, she was awarded the SWT Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarly and Creative Activity and, in 1993, she presented the SWT Presidential Seminar for her work in collaborative research. The National Association of Social Workers named her Social Work Educator of the Year in 2001.

Sweatt will speak during the ceremony to be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21. Degree candidates from the colleges of Applied Arts and Business Administration will attend the Saturday afternoon ceremony.

Sweatt is a board-certified thoracic surgeon. In 1958, he became the first African-American ever admitted to the Washington University School of Medicine. In 1976, he became the first African-American appointed to the board of directors of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. In 1995, he became the first African-American president of the Dallas county Medical Society. He is past president of the Texas Medical Association. As a TSUS regent, he participates on the board that governs SWT and its sister schools, including Sam Houston State University, Angelo State University, Lamar State University and Sul Ross State University.

Student speakers for the commencement ceremonies will be Linda Ha of the College of Liberal Arts for the Friday evening ceremony, Scott Osborne of the College of Education for the Saturday morning ceremony and Jeffrey Kessler of the College of Business Administration for the Saturday afternoon ceremony.