Former Dallas Mayor to Speak at AC

The following is a news release from Austin College:

SHERMAN, TEXAS -- Graduation activities for almost 360 students of Austin College will be held May 13-14 on the campus. Commencement exercises will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 14 on the north lawn of Caruth Administration Building, 900 N. Grand Avenue, in Sherman, Texas. Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, a 1976 alumnus of Austin College, will deliver the Commencement address.

The Baccalaureate sermon, “God and the Chaos Monster,” will be given by the Rev. Jimmie D. Johnson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Waco, Texas, May 13 at 7 p.m. in Sid Richardson Center of the Robert T. Mason Athletic-Recreation Complex. Johnson has been pastor and head of staff at First Presbyterian Church of Waco since 1982. He served as pastor at DeSoto Presbyterian Church from 1977 to 1982 and was previously youth director and then-associate pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Oklahoma State University and then completed master’s and doctoral degrees at Southwestern Seminary.

Held on the north lawn of Caruth Administration Building, the 2006 Commencement exercises will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday, May 14. The Class of 2006 includes 330 candidates for bachelor’s degrees and 28 Master of Arts in Teaching degrees. The Commencement address will be presented by former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, a member of the Austin College Class of 1976. Admitted to the practice of law in 1979 following his graduation from the University of Texas School of Law, Kirk joined the Dallas offices of Johnson and Gibbs. Shortly thereafter, he accepted a position with then-Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s Washington D.C., office. Kirk later worked with the Dallas City Attorney’s office, and became the city’s chief lobbyist in Austin, and in 1994, served as Texas Secretary of State. Prior to election to two terms as Dallas mayor, Kirk was an attorney with Gardere Wynne & Sewell. He served as mayor of Dallas from 1995 until 2001 when he resigned to run for the United States Senate. Not elected, he returned to private law practice and is now a partner with the law firm of Vinson & Elkins in Dallas.

The Commencement ceremony will include the awarding of honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees to Johnson, Kirk, and Texas congressman Bob Hunter. A long-time resident of Abilene, Texas, Hunter was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1986 and has been voted into the House in each ensuing election. Earlier in his career, he served as the executive vice president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas. He coordinated passage of the Texas Tuition Equalization Grant that helps needy Texas students attend private colleges and universities in Texas.

Members of the Class of 1956 will be on campus throughout the weekend for 50-year reunion activities. Class members in attendance will receive 50-year anniversary diplomas and medallions from Austin College President Oscar C. Page at a dinner in the graduates’ honor Friday, May 12. The anniversary graduates will take part in the Processional for Baccalaureate and will be recognized during Commencement exercises. Other Golden ’Roos, graduates of 50 or more years ago, also will take part in reunion activities.

Austin College, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), is an independent, liberal arts college located 60 miles north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Chartered in November 1849, it is the oldest college in Texas under original charter and name as recognized by the State Historical Survey Committee.

U.S.News & World Report ranked Austin College among the top 100 colleges in the category of “Best Liberal Arts Colleges” for 2006. Austin College also ranked among the “Best 361 Colleges” in the 2006 Princeton Review, was included in Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives, and was profiled in the 2005 edition of Kaplan’s Insiders Guide to the 331 Most Interesting Colleges.