More than 400 UHV students to walk in fall commencement ceremony

KATY – The University of Houston-Victoria’s commencement ceremonies just keep growing, and Saturday’s graduation is expected to follow that trend.

More than 400 students are scheduled to walk at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Leonard E. Merrell Center.

“UHV has experienced a significant enrollment growth of nearly 50 percent during the last five years, so this, of course, affects our graduation ceremonies,” UHV President Tim Hudson said. “It is exciting to have this many students coming to the Merrell Center to celebrate their special day.”

UHV Faculty Senate President Cindy Schnebly will serve as grand marshal during Saturday’s ceremony. The deans of UHV’s four schools will award students their diplomas, and Hudson and Renu Khator, the UH System chancellor and UH president, will confer the degrees. Outstanding students for the fall semester will be recognized, along with faculty members who previously received awards for excellence in teaching, research and service.

UH System Board of Regents Chairman Welcome Wilson Sr. will bring greetings on behalf of the board, and Khator also will address the audience. Regents Jacob Monty and Kristen Lindley, who also is a UHV graduate student, will be in attendance.

As part of UHV’s growing commitment to graduating students who will be successful in today’s global environment, Alfonso Rubio, founder and chief executive officer of the information, publishing and education conglomerate Grupo Sense, with offices throughout Europe, will bring an international salutation to the graduates.

The Madrid, Spain, resident also visited Victoria in 2005 and spoke at UHV’s commencement. Rubio and Hudson signed a Master of Business Administration certificate agreement at that time to allow Spanish-based students to study a curriculum developed collaboratively by faculty in Victoria and Spain.

In July, Rubio was elected to a three-year term on the UHV President’s Regional Advisory Board, the university’s principal external advisory board.

The keynote speaker at Saturday’s commencement will be State Rep. John Zerwas, one of only two physicians in the Texas House of Representatives. Zerwas represents House District 28, which consists of Waller, Wharton and west Fort Bend counties. It is one of the fastest-growing regions in the state.

He has been a physician for more than 20 years and practices anesthesiology at Greater Houston Anesthesiology, a group practice he helped start more than 10 years ago. Zerwas previously served as president of Memorial Hermann Health Network Providers and chief medical officer of Memorial Hermann Hospital System.

As part of the House Appropriations Committee, Zerwas serves as chair of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee. In addition, he served on the Conference Committee for Senate Bill 1, the 2010-2011 state budget, and the House Public Health Committee.

In the July issue of Texas Monthly, Zerwas was named one of the “Ten Best Legislators” in Texas for his work during the 81st legislative session.

Zerwas and his wife, Cindy, graduated from Bellaire High School in 1973 and married in 1978. After graduating from the University of Houston, Zerwas earned his Doctorate in Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in 1980 and started a full-time private practice in 1985.

The couple has four children, John Jr., Joseph, Brandon and Sherry, and son-in-law Matthew.

Following the ceremony, a reception for graduates and their guests will take place in the Merrell Center.

The UHV School of Nursing also will have a pinning ceremony on Saturday. Thirty-eight Bachelor of Science in Nursing candidates and seven Master of Science in Nursing candidates are expected to attend the event at 1:30 p.m. in the Merrell Center and have special pins placed on their uniforms. These are the first MSN degrees awarded by UHV. The keynote speaker will be Janet Leatherwood, vice president and chief nursing officer of Methodist Sugar Land Hospital in Sugar Land.

“Commencement is a fulfilling time for all of us at UHV as we watch these students achieve their dreams of obtaining a higher education,” Hudson said. “I am proud of each of these students for their hard work and perseverance. We are grateful to their networks of friends, family and supporters who helped them succeed.”

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.

Paula Cobler