Auburn University will confer 3,653 degrees to its new graduates during spring commencement ceremonies over four days, starting Saturday.
Five main ceremonies will be held May 6-8 in Auburn Arena—the most ceremonies for the university in one semester—in addition to separate ceremonies May 9 for its two professional schools.
A 10 a.m. ceremony will be held on Saturday for the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business and University College. At 2 p.m. Saturday, a ceremony will be held for the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. Leah Rawls Atkins, a three-time graduate of Auburn, will speak at Saturday’s ceremonies.
There will be a 1 p.m. ceremony on Sunday for the College of Education, the College of Human Sciences and the School of Nursing. A Sunday 5 p.m. ceremony will be held for the College of Agriculture, the College of Architecture, Design and Construction and the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Former Athletics Director David Housel will be the speaker at Sunday’s ceremonies.
On Monday, a 10 a.m. commencement ceremony will be held for the College of Liberal Arts, and award-winning journalist Mark Winne will be the featured speaker.
Auburn’s professional schools will hold their ceremonies Tuesday in Auburn Arena for their students, with the Harrison School of Pharmacy at 10 a.m. and the College of Veterinary Medicine at 6 p.m.
At Sunday’s 1 p.m. ceremony, Auburn University will award John W. and Rosemary Kopel Brown, both 1957 graduates, honorary doctor of science degrees. The Browns have exemplified extraordinary excellence and character throughout their lives–John, through his business leadership and accomplishments, and Rosemary, through her teaching career and commitment to education, community service and support of the arts.
Atkins holds the distinction of earning the first doctorate of philosophy granted by the Auburn Department of History in 1974. Atkins taught at three institutions: The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University and Auburn. She also served as the founding director of the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in 1985.
In addition to her achievements in the humanities, Atkins is a former U.S. National and World Champion water skier, and she was the first woman to be inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Each year, Auburn recognizes its most outstanding female athlete with an award named in her honor. Atkins currently serves on the Auburn Library Development Committee and has authored many articles and books, including “Alabama: The History of a Deep South State” and “A Century of Women at Auburn, 1892-1992: Blossoms Amid the Deep Verdure.”
Housel graduated from Auburn with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1969. Following a brief stint as a news editor at The Huntsville News, he returned to the Plains to start a career with Auburn Athletics. Housel spent two years in in the ticket office before teaching journalism at Auburn from 1972-80. He rejoined the athletic department as an assistant sports information director and was named sports information director in 1981 and assistant athletic director in 1985.
Housel became athletics director in 1994 and served in that capacity until 2005. That same year, the press box in Jordan-Hare Stadium was dedicated in his honor. Housel has written numerous books including “From the Desk of David Housel, a Collection of Auburn Stories” and “Auburn Saturdays to Remember.” He is also the member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame. In 2015, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Auburn Alumni Association.
While Winne was still a student at Auburn and working part time at The Birmingham News, he and a photographer spotted a hand sticking out of the trunk of a car and chased it across the city, ultimately leading to the rescue of a kidnapping victim. Thus began a journalism career covering crime and corruption. After three and a half years working full time for the paper, Winne was hired by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Later switching to television, Winne went on the air for WSB-TV in 1986 and has helped Channel 2 Action News break many of Georgia's biggest stories. His print and broadcast work have been honored with numerous professional and civic awards, including a number of Southern Regional Emmys. Winne’s coverage of a series of mail bombings which killed a federal judge and a civil rights attorney led to the publication of his book on the case, “Priority Mail.” Winne has been a member of the Auburn College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Advisory Council for many years.
Auburn will award 97 doctoral degrees, 631 master’s degrees, two educational specialist degrees, 151 pharmacy degrees, 118 veterinary medicine degrees and 2,654 bachelor’s degrees. The bachelor’s degrees by college and school are: Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, 601; Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, 493; College of Liberal Arts, 474; College of Sciences and Mathematics, 292; College of Education, 263; College of Agriculture, 131; College of Architecture, Design and Construction, 128; College of Human Sciences, 117; School of Nursing, 89; School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, 42; and University College, 24.
Editor's note: Miranda Nobles is an employee of Auburn University.