Fall Grad Ceremonies to Set a Record for UT Dallas

Diplomas to be Presented This Weekend Represent a 27% Increase From 2006

Dec. 14, 2011

The 1,839 students projected to receive diplomas this weekend will make for UT Dallas’ largest fall graduation cohort ever. The increase is a 13 percent jump from last fall and a 27 percent rise since 2006.

Curt Eley, vice provost for Enrollment Management at the University, said he’s not surprised by this year’s increase.

Grad Numbers Continue Climb

Graduation Statistics for UT Dallas

Fall graduation numbers have steadily increased over the last five years at UT Dallas.

“At nearly 19,000, our student population has grown more than 30 percent since 2005,” Eley said. “So it makes sense that we’re graduating more students each semester, too.”

The five commencement ceremonies will take place Friday, Dec. 16, at 1 and 4 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the University’s Activity Center.

As with every graduation, there are special stories of family ties, triumph over adversity and personal accomplishment.

Jeffrey Ayres, a doctoral student, will walk across the stage to collect his diploma on Dec. 17 while his son, Cameron, a junior majoring in arts and technology, watches from the audience.

“I think it’s great that Cameron and I attended UT Dallas at the same time,” Jeffrey said. “Once, we actually met by accident while walking to our respective classes. We’ve had lunch together on campus and had a chance to watch the University expand together.”

Jeffrey and Cameron Ayers

Jeffrey and Cameron Ayers

Jeffrey, who is earning his PhD in public policy and political economy, said he is one of many older people who are embracing education to energize and re-invent themselves. He received an MS in geospatial information science from UT Dallas in 2007.

“I’m eligible for retirement,” said Jeffrey, who works in the division of research at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in Dallas.  “But I’m naturally inquisitive and want to keep coming up with new ideas that can make a difference.”

The ceremony will be even more special for Jeffrey because another son, Austin, a naval officer, will attend after having just returned from a tour of duty in the Persian Gulf.

“It really makes the experience complete, having my whole family here,” Jeffrey said.

For his part, Eric Van Leeuwen said his “accidental” experience with the University has been nothing short of grand.  He transferred to UT Dallas from the University of New Orleans in 2005 after he was displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Eric Van Leeuwen, II

Karl Eric Van Leeuwen II

“I knew nothing about UT Dallas before I set foot on this campus,” Van Leeuwen said. “I came here as a transient, not sure what I was going to do or if I even wanted to be here, and this school opened its arms to me.”

A psychology major, Van Leeuwen was an undergraduate research assistant and worked as a teaching assistant. After finding his way as a Comet, he went on to meet and subsequently marry a woman from the Dallas area. He now works fulltime as a degree plan evaluator in the Office of the Registrar, where he will return to work on Monday.

“I love seeing prospective students visit UT Dallas for the first time,” he said. “When they get here, I hope they feel what I feel now as a soon-to-be graduate. I’m grateful to have had the experiences I did.”

After Ayres and Van Leeuwen collect their diplomas, the University will have conferred more than 77,700 degrees during its 42-year history.  In keeping with tradition, five students have been chosen as commencement speakers. UT Dallas President David E. Daniel also will address audiences.  In order of their appearance, the student speakers, their degrees and schools are:

  • Naomi Emmitt—BS, business administration, Naveen Jindal School of Management.
  • Andrew Cyders—MBA, Naveen Jindal School of Management.
  • Sabin Kshattry—BS, biochemistry, School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
  • Jessica Adams—BA, international political economy, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.
  • Laura Roppe—BA, interdisciplinary studies, School of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Among those expected to receive degrees are 905 graduate students and PhD candidates and 934 undergraduates. The largest of UT Dallas’ seven schools, the Naveen Jindal School of Management, will award the most degrees: 787.

Next are the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science with 314; the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences with 196; the School of Arts and Humanities with 169; the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics with 148; the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences with 144; and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies with 81.

Parking for graduates and their families will be available in Lot J, and overflow parking will be available in Lots H, I and M, as well as Lots A, B and C on the eastern side of campus.  University Police will be on hand to assist with directions.

Those unable to attend the ceremonies may watch the live video stream of the proceedings.

Media Contact: Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2244, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]
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Commencement Schedule

The schedule of commencment events is as follows:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

1 p.m.Doctoral Hooding Ceremony (Clark Center)
Friday, December 16, 2011
1 p.m.Naveen Jindal School of Management Undergraduates
4 p.m.Naveen Jindal School of Management Graduates
Saturday, December 17, 2011
10 a.m.Behavioral and Brain Sciences;
 Natural Sciences and Mathematics
1 p.m.Arts and Humanities;
 Economic, Political and Policy Sciences
4 p.m.Engineering and Computer Science;
 Interdisciplinary Studies

Students to Deliver Grad Speeches

Five students have been chosen to deliver commencement speeches in keeping with UT Dallas tradition.

Jessica AdamsAndrew Cyders
Jessica Adams
Andrew Cyders
Naomi EmmittSabin Kshattry
Naomi EmmittSabin Kshattry

Laura Roppe

Laura Roppe


Watching the Ceremonies

Families and Guests

Webcasts of Ceremonies

Commencement Parking Map


Guests are advised to arrive early so they may park and make their way to the Activity Center well before ceremonies begin. University Police will be on hand to assist guests with directions.


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June 18, 2018