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SHSU Announces Spring Commencement Speakers

April 21, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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As the number of students graduating each spring continues to break records, Sam Houston State University will welcome two state senators and a Texas State University System regent to deliver commencement addresses during four ceremonies May 9-10.

Approximately 2,166 degree candidates have applied for graduation during the May ceremonies, which includes 1,753 undergraduate, 380 graduate and 33 doctoral students.

Rep. Joe Straus
Rep. Joe Straus

Friday commencement speeches will be delivered by Texas Rep. Joe Straus, who will address College of Criminal Justice graduates at 2 p.m., and Texas Sen. Charles Schwertner, who will address College of Business Administration and College of Health Sciences graduates at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, Regent Jaime Garza will deliver the 9:30 a.m. address to graduates in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Sciences, as well as the 2:30 p.m. graduates in the College of Education and the College of Fine Arts and Mass Communication.

Straus, a Republican state representative from San Antonio, has served as Speaker of the Texas House for the past three legislative sessions.

Under Straus’s leadership, the house has helped the Texas private sector build the strongest economy in the country; balanced its budget without raising taxes, while prioritizing resources such as public schools, colleges and universities; pushed to reduce excessive testing in Texas classrooms; worked to make the state budget more transparent and efficient; and addressed the state’s increasingly severe water crisis.

Straus has been recognized for encouraging colleagues to work across partisan lines to confront the state’s challenges and was named one of Texas Monthly’s “Ten Best Legislators” last year.

A San Antonio native and small businessman, Strauss and his wife, Julie, have two daughters.
In 2012, Schwertner won the Republican primary for the Texas Senate’s District 5, a 10-county region of Central and East Texas that includes Brazos, Freestone, Grimes, Leon, Limestone, Madison, Milam, Robertson, Walker and Williamson counties.

Sen. Charles Schwertner
Sen. Charles Schwertner

As a state senator, Schwertner serves on senate committees for health and human services; government organization; criminal justice; and agriculture, rural affairs, and homeland security.
Last September, Schwertner also was named to the Sunset Advisory Commission, a 12-member legislative body charged with providing a comprehensive periodic review of the operation of more than 150 state agencies.

For his efforts during the 83rd legislative session, Schwertner was named a “Courageous Conservative” by the Texas Conservative Coalition, a “Lone Star Conservative Leader” by the Texas Conservative Roundtable, and “Senate Freshman of the Year” by Texas Monthly.
From 2010-2012, he served in the Texas House of Representatives for district 20.

Schwertner also works as a practicing orthopedic surgeon, treating thousands of patients in Williamson and Milam counties each year.

He and his wife, Belinda, reside in Georgetown with their three sons—Carson, Zachary and Matthew.

Garza, a San Antonio native, is currently a professor of clinical surgery, professor of clinical otolaryngology and assistant dean for South Texas affairs at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

He also is president and chief executive officer of Texas Plastic Surgery and Renew Center at Stadia and is immediate past president of the Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Dr. Jaime Garza
Dr. Jaime Garza

In 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed Garza to the Texas State University System Board of Regents, where he serves as chairman of the academic affairs committee and a member of the governmental relations committee.

An accomplished researcher, he is one of the first clinician/scientists to receive an IRB approval for a clinical study involving the use of human regenerative cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee joint and is an internationally known expert in the treatment of sports related facial injuries.

Garza holds a U.S. patent on a protective face mask used by NBA and college players; is a consultant to the NFL New Orleans Saints and NBA San Antonio Spurs; team physician for The University of Texas at San Antonio; and served as tournament physician for several NCAA Final Four basketball tournaments and U.S. Olympic Trials.

Among his accolades are the American Medical Association’s "Emerging Leaders" award (2000); San Antonio Business Journal’s “Outstanding Physician” award; was elected by his peers President of the statewide Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons; and was one of the only three Texans invited by the Forbes group to participate in the invitation-only Forbes Healthcare Summit in 2012, among others.

Garza received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Tulane University, where he broke almost all receiving records as a football player and was named one of the “Best College Football Players in America;” and his Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Dental Surgery degrees from Louisiana State University.

He is dual board-certified in two surgical specialties and has authored 10 book chapters and dozens of medical journal articles and abstracts.

He and his wife, Lisa Marie, have four children.


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