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April 22, 2004


DALLAS (SMU) — U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio O. Garza Jr. will give SMU’s 89th annual commencement address at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 15, in Moody Coliseum, when the university expects to award a record number of 2,263 degrees. Ambassador Garza, who assumed the Ambassador post in November 2002, is a native Texan and graduate of SMU’s Dedman School of Law.

“Ambassador Garza exemplifies the outstanding SMU graduates who have gone on to make significant contributions as leaders in our global society,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He is a fine model for this year’s graduates as they seek to define their roles in an increasingly complex and challenging world. We are delighted that he will address this year’s graduates.”

SMU will confer three honorary degrees during the 2004 commencement ceremony. The honorees are historian Peter Robert Lamont Brown of Princeton University, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree; theologian Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza of Harvard University Divinity School, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree; and engineering educator and administrator Thomas Lyle Martin, Jr., who will receive the honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Before being appointed Ambassador to Mexico, Garza served as Texas’ 41st Railroad Commissioner from 1998 to 2002, becoming the first Hispanic Republican elected to statewide office in Texas. Prior to that, Garza was appointed in 1994 by then-governor-elect George W. Bush as Texas’ Secretary of State and a senior advisor. In the latter role, he was the lead liaison for Texas on border issues and Mexican affairs.

“As someone who grew up along the border, I came to understand long ago that the destinies of Mexico and the United States are forever linked,” Garza said in an interview soon after becoming Ambassador. “Our two nations have great challenges and opportunities ahead of us in numerous aspects of the relationship, such as trade, the environment, the fight against crime, security and of course, migration.”

Garza received his B.B.A. degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980 and was recognized in 1989 as one of five Outstanding Young Texas Exes. He received his J.D. degree from the SMU School of Law in 1983 and was honored with the law school’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001. Earlier in his career, Garza was a partner in the Austin office of Bracewell & Patterson, L.L.P., a Houston-based law firm. Hispanic Business magazine has twice named him one of its Top 100 Influential Hispanics.
The three honorary degree recipients will participate in seminars and discussions featuring their work on Friday, May 14, the day before SMU’s commencement ceremony.

Peter R. L. Brown is a distinguished scholar of late antique and early medieval historical periods. He has written more than a dozen books, several of them milestones of historical thought. They include Augustine of Hippo: A Biography, The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity and The Rise of Western Christendom. Brown has been the Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University since 1986. A native of Ireland, he began his teaching career at All Souls College, Oxford. After earning a Doctor of Theology degree from the University of Fribourg, he taught at Royal Holloway College, London, before coming to the United States as professor of history and classics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza combines her pioneering work in biblical interpretation and feminist theology in her teaching and research. She is best known for her groundbreaking book, In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, translated into 12 languages. Co-founder and editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, she was the first woman president of the Society of Biblical Literature. She has been the Krister Stendahl Professor of Theology at the Harvard Divinity School since 1988 and previously taught at the University of Notre Dame and the Episcopal Divinity School. She earned a Doctor of Theology degree from the University of Münster.

Thomas Martin played a pivotal role in development of the SMU School of Engineering. During his tenure as dean of the school’s predecessor, the SMU Institute of Technology, 1966-1974, engineering education and research funding at SMU made significant progress. A pioneer in distance education, he was responsible for creating The Association for Graduate Education and Research in North Texas, known as TAGER, which telecast courses to Metroplex industries. An expert on radioactive ionizers, he has written seven books and holds three patents. Martin earned a Ph.D. degree from Stanford University and was engineering dean at the University of Arizona and University of Florida before coming to SMU. He later served as president of Illinois Institute of Technology.

The preliminary total of 2,263 degrees to be awarded at SMU’s 2004 commencement includes 1,094 bachelor’s degrees, 800 master’s degrees, 317 professional degrees in law and theology, 42 doctoral degrees, and 10 certificates. The expected totals by school are: Cox School of Business, 828; Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 526; Dedman School of Law, 314; Meadows School of the Arts, 282; School of Engineering, 210; Perkins School of Theology, 66; and Division of Education and Lifelong Learning, 37. After the universitywide ceremony, individual schools and departments will present diplomas in separate ceremonies during the afternoon and evening.