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Senator Cornyn is Commencement Speaker

James S. Olson
Distinguished Prof. James S. Olson

U. S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and James S. Olson, distinguished professor of history, will be the featured speakers for Sam Houston State University commencement exercises scheduled for May 13 and 14.

Almost 1,300 students have applied for degrees to be awarded in three ceremonies Friday evening and Saturday in Johnson Coliseum.

Olson will speak at the ceremony for the College of Education at 6 p.m. May 13. Cornyn will speak at two ceremonies May 14--10 a.m. for the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and 2 p.m. for the College of Business Administration and the College of Criminal Justice.

Last fall Olson was named the top professor in Texas for 2004 by two prestigious national educational organizations. His awards at Sam Houston State include the Excellence in Teaching Award (1977), the Excellence in Research Award (1988), and the Alumni Service Award (2003).

Olson, 58, was born in Downey, Calif. He received the B.A. from Brigham Young University in 1967 and the M.A. and Ph.D. from the State University of New York, at Stony Brook, in 1967 and 1972 respectively. He has taught at Sam Houston State since 1972.

He is the author of more than 40 books on U.S. and World History. In 1987 and 1990, he received "Outstanding Academic Book" awards from the American Association of College and Research Libraries.

His book "John Wayne American" (1995) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and won the Ray and Pat Browne Book Award from the American Popular Culture Association. In 2002, his book "A Line in the Sand: The Alamo in Blood and Memory" won the Diolece Parmelee Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Historic Preservation" from the Texas Historical Foundation.

Olson's most recent book--"Bathsheba's Breast: Women, Cancer, and History"--was nominated for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in History, won the 2003 History of Science Prize from the Association of American Publishers, and was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best non-fiction books in America in 2002.

Olson and his wife, Judith, are the parents of four children and 14 grandchildren.

John Cornyn
U. S. Senator John Cornyn

Cornyn, 53, was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on December 2, 2002, succeeding Phil Gramm.

After one year in the Senate, Cornyn was chosen by leadership to serve as a deputy whip. As a member of the whip team, he helps mobilize votes and support on major issues.

He serves on five key Senate committees: Armed Services; Judiciary; Budget; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and the Joint Economic Committee. He chairs the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship and the Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

Cornyn is a supporter of President Bush’s judicial nominees, he continues to work for Texas military personnel and veterans, and has been a leader on working to bring about immigration reform. He also supports the concepts of free markets, traditional values, and individual liberty.

In addition to his legislative committees, Cornyn is the chairman of the Senate India Caucus, vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Task Force on Hispanic Affairs, vice chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and a member of the Senate Republican Task Force on Health Care Costs and the Uninsured, the Senate Republican High Tech Task Force, Congressional Oversight Group on Trade, and the President’s Export Council.

While in the Senate, he has received various awards and recognitions, including the 2005 Border Texan of the Year Award; the National Child Support Enforcement Association’s Children’s Champion Award; the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Friend of Farm Bureau Award; the Texas Association of Business’s Fighter for Free Enterprise Award; and the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce’s (TAMACC) International Leadership Legislative Award; among others.

As Texas Attorney General from 1999-2002, Cornyn directed many initiatives vital to the interests of Texas families. He served for six years as a District Court Judge in San Antonio before being elected to the Texas Supreme Court in 1990, where he served for seven years.

He was born in Houston and is the son of native Texans. His father, a B-17 pilot in World War II, served for 31 years in the U.S. Air Force and, later, taught at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

A graduate of Trinity University and St. Mary’s School of Law, both in San Antonio, Cornyn also earned a Masters of Law from the University of Virginia Law School in 1995. He was named the St. Mary’s Distinguished Law School Graduate in 1994 and a Trinity University Distinguished Alumnus in 2001.

He is married to Sandy, his wife of 25 years. They have two daughters.

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For more information, see the registrar's office graduation information page.

SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
April 26, 2005
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