Vol. 6 No. 14 | April 22, 2009


NAU to graduate over 3,000; university to honor 3 individuals, 1 organization

More than 3,000 students will receive their diplomas from Northern Arizona University during commencement ceremonies May 8 and 9 in Flagstaff and May 15 in Yuma.

At the same time, the university will honor three individuals and one organization for their invaluable support of higher education.

Can't attend? You can still watch

Northern Arizona University's spring 2009 commencement ceremonies will be webcast May 8 and 9 and will be broadcast live on NPG Cable Channel 4 and University House Channel 9411 on the Dish Network.

Students from the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences will be honored beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, May 8, in the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff. At 2 p.m. May 8, students from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Master of Administration program will receive their diplomas in the Skydome.

The W.A. Franke College of Business and the College of Health and Human Services will have their ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 9, in the Skydome while College of Education students will celebrate beginning at 2 p.m. May 9.

About 353 graduates from NAU-Yuma programs will hold their commencement beginning at 8 p.m. Friday, May 15, at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 7150 E. 24th St. The ceremony will be held in conjunction with Arizona Western College.

Schedules for the various school and college receptions, as well as parking and other information, can be found at nau.edu/graduation.

Steven R. Altman, president of Qualcomm Inc., the San Diego-based leader in developing and delivering digital wireless communications products and services, will be one of three individuals bestowed with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Altman will receive his award at 2 p.m. Friday.

A native of Tucson, Altman graduated from NAU in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He was a two-time letterman with the men’s basketball team from 1981 to 1983. He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and the NAU debate team. In 1998, Altman was the recipient of the Centennial Award from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Altman is a past member of the NAU Foundation board of directors and the Skyjacks.

With its roots in teacher education, Northern Arizona University annually honors the state’s teacher of the year.

This year the award goes to Sarah Baird, a fifth-grade math coach in the Kyrene School District, recently named Arizona Teacher of the Year for 2009. Baird earned both a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in early childhood education from NAU.

"I worked hard in high school, but I didn't find my potential until I attended NAU," Baird said. "It is what helped me change the direction my life was headed and helped me realize that I have control in writing my future."

Baird has served as a frequent presenter with NAU’s Arizona K-12 Center to enhance the skills of Arizona’s teachers in the area of mathematics. In recognition of her expertise, Baird serves on the advisory council for the STEM Center of Science Foundation Arizona. She also has contributed professional development workshops and curricular materials to the Arizona K-12 Center’s New Teacher Mentor Program.

She will address the College of Education graduates at 2 p.m. Saturday.

John W. Murphy, who on June 1 will retire as president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation, one of Arizona’s largest private grant-making foundations, also will receive an honorary degree. He will address students at the 10 a.m. Friday ceremony.

Murphy has been with the Flinn Foundation since 1981—the first staff member. He has been responsible for guiding the programs of the $200 million foundation, which specializes in advancing the biosciences in Arizona.

Murphy has held administrative positions with three universities, served as a member of the Governor’s Task Force charged with planning the Translational Genomics Research Institute and now serves on TGen’s board of directors. He also is a member of the board of the Critical Path Institute and was a founding director of Science Foundation Arizona.

He was appointed by former Gov. Janet Napolitano to the Arizona Commission on Medical Education and Research, which is charged with developing implementation plans for an expansion of the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. He is also a member of the Governor’s Council on Innovation and Technology.

Murphy oversees the Flinn Scholars Program and has chaired the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee for Arizona.

The Raymond Educational Foundation, another NAU honoree, has donated more than $5 million in academic scholarships to hundreds of NAU students and grants to various local organizations since its inception in 1952.

Dr. R.O. Raymond, physician, stockman, humanitarian, and philanthropist conceived and established the Flagstaff Educational Foundation to provide financial aid for those in need of further education. This foundation was formed to benefit Flagstaff and Coconino County residents. 

In addition to NAU students, current grant awardees include Coconino Community College, Coconino County Literacy Volunteers, Flagstaff Family Food Center, Flagstaff Unified School District Camp Colton, Flagstaff Unified School District Vocational Scholarship, Northland Hospice, Pioneer Historical Society and Sunshine Rescue Mission.

Accepting the honorary degree for the Raymond Educational Foundation will be J. Thomas Montfort, Raymond Foundation president.

He will address graduates at the 10 a.m. Saturday ceremony.

In Yuma, biology graduate Gloria Rodriguez de Huereque will be featured as the commencement speaker.

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