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Oklahoma State University

BURNS HARGIS: Grads to hear distinguished servants

Posted: Sunday, May 3, 2015 8:30 am

In addition to earning a life-changing higher education degree, Oklahoma State University students have countless opportunities for service and leadership. We work hard to shape ethical leaders who give back to their communities.

Our spring graduates will hear from two outstanding service leaders at OSU's undergraduate commencements this coming Saturday. OSU is honored to host U.S. Ambassador Joseph Westphal and U.S. Senator James Lankford as commencement speakers.

To accommodate our graduates' family and friends, we hold three undergraduate ceremonies Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Westphal will speak at the 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. ceremonies. He will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) Degree at the first ceremony. Lankford will speak at the 1 p.m. ceremony. The OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences will hood its graduates on Friday at 1 p.m. and our graduate commencement is set for 7 p.m. Friday. Each ceremony will be streamed live at

Ambassador Westphal is the current U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and we are delighted to welcome him back to Stillwater. He received his master's degree from Oklahoma State then later taught at OSU and served as the head of the political science department from 1975 to 1987. His career spans more than 40 years in higher education and government.

Sen. Lankford, who recently served two terms in the U.S House of Representatives, was elected to represent Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate last November. He is serving on critical committees in Congress. Our graduates will be inspired by their insights.   

It is an exciting time as students wrap up the semester and graduates receive their degrees. OSU conferred a record 5,635 degrees in 2013-14 and after Saturday's graduation we expect the number for 2014-15 to grow to nearly 6,000.

The spring is a time to honor students with scholarships and celebrate student honors, including prestigious national awards.

Maeghan Murie is OSU's 15th Udall scholar, which goes to students pursuing careers that impact American Indian self-governance, health care, or the stewardship of public lands and natural resources. Maeghan is from Cleveland, Okla., and a member of the Pawnee Nation. She is a junior majoring in chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology.

Four OSU graduate students were among a select group of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows. OSU's recipients are Christopher Dinges from Oklahoma City, Rebecca Purvis from Houston and Stillwater natives Peter Storm and Josh Damron.

Storm and Damron grew up as neighbors and have been close friends since elementary school. Their fathers are OSU faculty in the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Damron's mother is a professor in the OSU English Department.

Burns Hargis is president of Oklahoma State University.

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