UHV students to celebrate graduation Saturday

University of Houston-Victoria graduates pose for a photo as they wait for the 2014 spring commencement to begin at Faith Family Church in Victoria. The 2015 UHV spring commencement ceremonies will take place at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday at the same venue.

More than 450 students are scheduled to walk the stage and listen to a nationally recognized speaker Saturday during the University of Houston-Victoria’s spring commencement ceremonies.

“Commencement is a time to honor students who have earned their degrees and look back on their achievements,” UHV Interim President Vic Morgan said. “I applaud these students for their hard work and dedication to reach their goals, and I wish them the best in the future.”

The ceremonies will be at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday at Faith Family Church, 2002 E. Mockingbird Lane. The 9 a.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the schools of Arts & Sciences and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. The 1 p.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the schools of Business Administration and Nursing. Live streaming of the ceremonies can be seen at

Belle Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, will deliver the keynote address during both ceremonies. Wheelan has worked in higher education for 40 years in multiple roles including a faculty member, provost, college president, student services officer and secretary of education. In many of these offices, she was the first woman or African American to hold the position.

Wheelan is a member of several local, state and national organizations, including the American College Testing Inc. Board of Directors, the American Association of Community Colleges Board of Directors and the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs. In 2001, she was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C., by The Washingtonian Magazine. She has received the American Association of University Women’s Women of Distinction Award, the John E. Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Institutional Leadership Award and the AACC Leadership Award.

Wheelan plans to deliver a motivational, humorous speech looking at the next step for graduates and what they already have accomplished. She plans to encourage students to be determined in their future goals and develop strong support systems.

During the ceremonies, Roger Welder, a UH System regent from Victoria, will offer greetings on behalf of the UH System Board of Regents.

Elsa Soto Leggett, UHV Faculty Senate president, will serve as grand marshal of both ceremonies. Morgan will confer the degrees, and the deans of each of the university’s four schools will award students their diplomas. The outstanding students for the spring semester also will be recognized, along with faculty members receiving awards for excellence in teaching, research and service.

After commencement, the UHV School of Nursing will hold a pinning ceremony at 3 p.m. at Faith Family Church to honor its graduates. The ceremony will recognize 40 graduates. The faculty will award pins to 19 Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates and 21 Master of Science in Nursing graduates, including 11 who are the first group to graduate as family nurse practitioners. The school also will recognize three students who earned post-master’s certificates and one student who completed the Registered Nurse to MSN bridge degree.

The speaker for the pinning ceremony will be Jean Gisler, who owns a family nurse practitioner clinic in Victoria in partnership with fellow nurse practitioner Chris Stines. She has worked as a RN for 25 years and a family nurse practitioner for 20. She was the 2008 recipient of the Texas Nurse Practitioner of the Year, and in 2009, she was awarded the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice.

For general information about UHV commencement, contact special events coordinator Nancy Gresham at 361-570-4351 or Students who have graduation questions should contact Ahmet Aksoy, UHV Student Services coordinator, at 361-485-4474 or

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.