Dec. 11, 2019
This weekend, Dec. 13-15, 2,049 University of Missouri students will receive degrees during winter commencement. The new graduates will join the nearly 340,000 living Mizzou alumni working around the world.
University officials also will honor jazz guitarist and composer Pat Metheny with an honorary degree. A native of Lee’s Summit, Metheny began playing guitar at 12 years old. He has won more than 20 Grammy Awards in categories such as ‘Best Jazz Instrumental Solo,” “Best Instrumental Composition,” and “Best Jazz Performance.” Metheny will speak during the honors ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 14, where 345 Mizzou tigers will graduate with honors. The honors ceremony is for students earning Latin honors, university honors and certificates from the Honors College.
“I am so proud of all of our graduates, who truly epitomize what it means to be Mizzou Made,” MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “As newly-minted alumni of Missouri’s flagship university, they are prepared to tackle the grand challenges facing the world. I have no doubt that they will accomplish great things in the future.”
A recent survey found that 92% of Mizzou graduates have found successful career outcomes, including whether they are fully employed, involved in public service, in the military or are continuing their education. Top industries for graduates include finance, health care, communications, manufacturing, education, technology, agriculture and the nonprofit sector.
“Our goal is to put in place a structure that allows our students to graduate on time, with low or no debt and to have more career options than when they started” said Latha Ramchand, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Our curriculum and academic experience here prepares them for success. Interestingly, more than 64% of our graduates are Missourians, many of whom will begin their careers here at home. At the same time we know that Mizzou has a national brand given that we have graduates from 46 states and the District of Columbia.”
During commencement weekend, MU will award 2,211 degrees, including 1,654 bachelor’s degrees, 394 master’s degrees, 136 doctorates, five law degrees, 21 education specialist degrees and one medical degree. Some students will receive more than one degree. More than 300 online students, who come from 36 states and 2 countries, also will graduate this weekend. Graduates in distance degree programs range in age from 21-64.
Most schools and colleges will hold separate ceremonies for commencement and many invite notable speakers to address the graduates. Speakers at this year’s commencement ceremonies include:
- J’Den Cox, alumnus and Olympic bronze medalist, College of Arts and Science ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 14
- Richard N. “Dick” Richards, alumnus, retired U.S. Navy captain and former NASA astronaut, College of Engineering ceremony on Friday, Dec. 13
- Kristy Weber, the first female president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources on Friday, Dec. 13
- Sarah Copeland, alumna and acclaimed food writer, School of Journalism on Friday, Dec. 13
Editor's note: A detailed schedule of events and biographical information of the honorary degree recipient are below. For more information on the commencement ceremonies and Columbia accommodations, please visit: http://commencement.missouri.edu.
In 1974, Metheny catapulted onto the international jazz scene. He began making music with jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton and displaying his soon-to-be-trademarked style of playing – a way of improvising grounded in the jazz tradition of melody, swing and the blues. In 1975, Metheny released his first album titled “Bright Size Life,” which reinvented the traditional jazz guitar sound.
While working with Burton and developing his own jazz quintet, the Pat Metheny Group, Metheny began honing his trademark style on the guitar, discovering there was a place for modern improvising styles within the traditional structure of jazz music. Now, with guitar being a staple in jazz music, Metheny has taken his musicianship all over the world and performed with many well-known musicians such as David Bowie, Herbie Hancock, Ornette Coleman, Milton Nascimento and Christian McBride.
He has composed songs for nearly every kind of musical group, from ballet pieces to robotic instruments within his Orchestrion project. Metheny creates music using interesting blends of bop, jazz, country, folk and Brazilian music. His ability to combine music from around the world comes from Metheny’s years of collaboration with musicians from Brazil, Cameroon, Mexico, Switzerland, Argentina and more.
Metheny’s passion for music extends to the academic world as well. He was only 18 when he started teaching at the University of Miami. A year later, he joined the faculty at Berklee College of Music, where he received an honorary doctorate in 1996. He taught internationally as well, helping students develop their unique musicianship at the Dutch Royal Conservatory, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and various clinics in Asia and South America.
His investment into future musicians also is evident in the Metheny Music Foundation, which he established in 2007 with his brother Mike, a jazz musician and a University of Missouri alum. The foundation gives awards to talented musicians who intend to participate in music studies during the summer. The foundation recently established the William R. Lorene Metheny Knight College Scholarship, which is awarded to musically gifted students pursuing higher education.
Metheny has received an unprecedented 20 Grammy Awards in categories such as ‘Best Jazz Instrumental Solo,” “Best Instrumental Composition,” and “Best Jazz Performance.” He was inducted into the Downbeat Hall of Fame in 2015 and was voted Downbeat’s “Guitarist of the Year” in 2009, 2010 and 2011. His award-winning albums include “Bright Size Life” (1975), “Beyond the Missouri Sky” (1996) and “The Way Up” (2005). He performs more than 100 shows a year.
After more than 40 years of contributing to the world of music, Metheny continues to evolve as a musician and composer while still influencing emerging artists and performing his unique style of music for others.
Friday, December 13
College of Engineering
Speaker: Richard N. “Dick” Richards, a retired U.S. Navy captain and former NASA astronaut. The Mizzou alumnus flew aboard four Space Shuttle missions
School of Health Professions
Speaker: Janet Farmer, professor emerita of health psychology
School of Journalism
Speaker: Sarah Copeland, alumna and acclaimed food writer. Copeland is the author of the books, “Feast,” The Newlywed Cookbook,” and “Every day is Saturday”
College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
Speaker: Kristy Weber, alumna and chief of orthopaedic oncology in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Weber has been serving as the president of the American Academy Orthopaedic Surgeons since March, as the organization’s first female president
Saturday, December 15
Speaker: Honorary degree recipient Pat Metheny
Air Force ROTC Commissioning Ceremony
Memorial Union, Jesse Wrench Auditorium
College of Arts and Science
Speaker: J’Den Cox, Mizzou alumnus and Olympic bronze medalist
Sinclair School of Nursing
Trulaske College of Business
Speaker: Tricia Zimmer Ferguson, alumna and owner of Kaldi’s Coffee
Naval ROTC Commissioning Ceremony
Memorial Union, Stotler Lounge
Speaker: Major Robert Doss, U.S. Marine Corps (retired)
College of Human Environmental Sciences
Speaker: Mike Alden, former athletic director for Mizzou Athletics
Sunday, December 15
Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony
Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building, Conservation Auditorium
Speaker: Brigadier General Brian R. Bisacre, U.S. Army Fort Leonard Wood
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