Panamanian President Heads List of Alumni and Leaders Addressing Graduates May 11 and May 18

President Ricardo Martinelli and Lee Bodenhamer will speak and receive honorary degrees at the All University Commencement
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President Ricardo Martinelli and Lee Bodenhamer will speak and receive honorary degrees at the All University Commencement

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Two University of Arkansas alumni — Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and Arkansas businessman and philanthropist Lee Bodenhamer — will receive honorary degrees and be the featured speakers at the University of Arkansas All University Commencement. The ceremony is at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, May 11, in Bud Walton Arena, and recognizes students who are completing their graduate school degrees.

President Martinelli will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the ceremony. Lee Bodenhamer will be given an honorary Doctor of Arts and Humane Letters degree. Both men are U of A Distinguished Alumni, and both are being honored for their professional achievements, philanthropy and strong support for education.

Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to “walk” during six ceremonies held by the individual colleges and the School of Architecture during the afternoon of May 11.

The School of Law will hold its commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18. 

Each ceremony will feature its own commencement speaker, or in some cases, speakers.

The Sam M. Walton College of Business will hold its ceremony in Barnhill Arena at 12:30 p.m. Venture capitalist and former IBM executive Jim Stallings will be the featured speaker.

Stallings, an internationally recognized global business leader and speaker, is currently managing partner of PS 27 Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on healthy living and technology companies working in sustainability. He also is co-founder of SmartBox, Florida’s leading healthy snack-vending company.

Stallings is the founder of the Eagle Forum, a program in which successful executives coach the next generation of business leaders.

The J. William Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences commencement ceremony is at 1p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. The Fulbright College commencement speaker is traditionally a graduating senior, and this year Bethany “Claire” Chesshir of Little Rock was chosen for the honor. She is an Honors College Fellow with a double major in psychology and biology. She plans to continue her studies at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and pursue a medical career in pediatrics.

The Fay Jones School of Architecture ceremony is set for 1 p.m. in the Verizon Ballroom of the Arkansas Union. The commencement speaker will be Susan S. Szenasy, editor in chief of Metropolis magazine. Metropolis is an award-winning magazine of architecture and design, based in New York City. Szenasy has led the magazine since 1986 and is internationally recognized as an authority on sustainability and design. In 2011, she won the Gene Burd Urban Journalism Award and was named a Senior Fellow by the Design Futures Council.

The College of Engineering is holding its commencement ceremony at 3:30 p.m. in Barnhill Arena. Neil Ingels, former chairman of the department of cardiovascular physiology and biophysics at Palo Alto Medical Research Foundation, is the commencement speaker. Ingels is a Distinguished Alumnus who earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the U of A in 1959, a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Santa Clara University and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He is currently a consulting professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford and an adjunct professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas.

The College of Education and Health Professions will hold its commencement ceremony at 4 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. Donna Axum Whitworth, Distinguished Alumna, philanthropist, and Miss America 1964 is the commencement speaker. She is a native of El Dorado, and was a senior at the U of A when she was crowned Miss America. She used her scholarship to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In 2001, she served as chair of the executive committee of the National Committee for the Performing Arts. She is as a member of the U of A Chancellor’s Advisory Board, and she previously served on the Steering Committee of the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century. The fitness center in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Building is named in her honor.

The Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences commencement ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. in Barnhill Arena. Commencement speakers are traditionally recipients of the Outstanding Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni awards.

Ted Dorn, president of Simmons Feed Ingredients, is this year’s Outstanding Alumnus. He grew up on his family’s farm in Dover and earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in animal science in 1982 from the University of Arkansas. He held positions with Ralston Purina, Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson Foods before spending the past 17 years at Simmons Foods Inc. He currently serves on the Benton County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and previously served 11 years on the Gentry School Board.

 Jenny Jennings, who supervises cattle research for Alltech Inc. is the 2013 Outstanding Young Alumna. She earned her Master of Science in animal science at the U of A and later received her doctorate at South Dakota State University. She joined Alltech Inc. in 2009 and currently manages the Alltech South Dakota Ruminant Physiology Lab. She is an active member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Masters of Beef Advocacy, and the American Society of Animal Science. 

The School of Law will hold its commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, in the Fayetteville Town Center. Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, the Judge Advocate General for the  U.S. Air Force, is the speaker. Harding graduated from the U of A School of Law in 1979 and joined the Air Force in 1980. He currently serves as the legal adviser to the Secretary of the Air Force and directs all Air Force judge advocates. He oversees military justice, operational and international law, and civil law functions at every level of command.


Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations


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