The cool expanse of Johnson Coliseum will provide a welcomed refuge from the sweltering August heat this Saturday as students, faculty and a throng of well-wishers gather for Sam Houston State University's 1997 summer commencement ceremonies.

So far, the SHSU registrar's office reports, over 640 SHSU students have applied to receive degrees at the culmination of the summer term.

Graduation ceremonies are schedule to begin at 10 a.m. with the traditional pomp and pageantry befitting the occasion. Highlighting the event will be performances by the Sam Houston Brass Ensemble and the commencement address by District 5 Texas Senator Steve Ogden (R-Bryan).

Ogden, elected to the Senate in a special election last January, represents all or part of 19 Texas counties, including Walker County.

No stranger to Texas politics, the Odessa-born and Abilene-raised businessman served over three terms as a state representative since 1990. During his tenure in the Texas House, Ogden served as vice-chair of the Public Education Committee where he led the drive to reform educational financing. More recently he served as vice-chair of the House Higher Education Committee and as chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

Throughout his political career Ogden's legislative priorities have included government accountability, adequate and equitable state funding for education, credible criminal justice and preserving and protecting parental rights. Last year he was recognized by Insite magazine as Brazos Valley's "Best Area Politician."

Ogden is a 1973 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He served in the Navy as chief engineer on a nuclear submarine, achieving the rank of lieutenant commander. In 1982 he left the Navy and moved to Bryan-College Station where he became involved in the oil and gas industry. He earned an MBA from Texas A&M University in 1987.

When not tending to his senatorial duties, Ogden serves as president of Ogden Resources Corporation, an oil and gas concern.

Presiding over this summer's commencement celebration will be David E. Payne, SHSU's new vice president for academic affairs. Payne, who took office Aug. 1, comes to SHSU from Emporia State University in Kansas where he also served as academic vice president and as a professor of sociology.

As part of his commencement duties the new vice president will recognize retiring SHSU faculty and staff members, including his predecessor, James E. Gilmore. Also retiring will be Marion Calvin Banta, Maria C. Jiminez and Newton D. Strandberg.

Gilmore, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from SHSU and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston, has served on the SHSU faculty since 1956. He will retire Aug. 31 as vice president for academic affairs and with the academic rank of professor of business administration.

Banta, a professor of chemistry and faculty member since 1969, earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of North Texas and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.

Jimenez, a professor of Spanish, joined the SHSU faculty in 1977. She first studied at the University of Salamanca in Spain and earned her doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Strandberg, a professor of music, has been on the SHSU faculty since 1967. Strandberg earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University.

Saturday's ceremonies will culminate with the conferring of degrees by SHSU President Bobby K. Marks.


Media Contact: Phillip Rollfing

Aug. 8, 1997