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Texas Christian University and Brite Divinity School bestowed degrees on 726 students from 43 states, including Texas, and from 18 foreign countries in two formal ceremonies held in the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena on the TCU campus. August and December degree candidates participated in the ceremonies. Students received their diplomas from Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr., who also delivered the commencement address.

Of the total number of degree candidates, 532 earned bachelor’s degrees, 109 were master’s degree candidates, 85 were doctoral candidates and nine were Brite Divinity School graduate candidates. One hundred eighty-nine graduated with Latin Honors: 85 cum laude, 76 magna cum laude and 28 summa cum laude. Five students earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Of special note in the morning ceremony was the presentation of two honorary degrees to Opal Lee and John R. Giordano.

Opal Lee was presented an honorary Doctor of Letters for her work as an educator and counselor as well as her tireless work with numerous charitable causes. Lee earned a bachelor’s degree from Wiley College (now Wiley University) and a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from North Texas State University.

Lee is a long-time Fort Worth resident who is a renowned educator and civil rights activist. Among other endeavors, she dedicated her time to helping the economically disadvantaged find housing and helped establish the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society. She has become most known for her campaign for Juneteenth – the day enforcement of enslaved Black people’s freedom in America reached the shores of Galveston, Texas – to be a national day of observance. That day came to fruition this year as Lee was turning 95. 

John R. Giordano was presented with an honorary Doctor of Musical Arts for his extensive career as a conductor, performer, composer, arranger and teacher. The TCU alumnus was music director and conductor of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for 28 seasons and is now music director emeritus. He founded the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra, which appeared in Carnegie Hall and toured Mexico, Spain and China. Serving as director emeritus of the Youth Orchestra of Greater Fort Worth and as faculty at TCU and other institutions, Giordano has not only brought music all over the world, but he also has been an active part of instilling it in the next generation.

Giordano earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music at TCU, and in 1996 he was recognized by the Board of Trustees with the naming of the piano wing of the Mary D. and F. Howard Walsh Center for Performing Arts. In 2009, the Cliburn presented the John Giordano Jury Chairman Discretionary Award in appreciation of his dedication and devoted leadership to that international piano competition.

The morning ceremony featured 320 students receiving degrees from AddRan College of Liberal Arts, the College Fine Arts, the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Neeley School of Business. The afternoon ceremony highlighted 406 candidates receiving degrees from Brite Divinity School, Bob Schieffer College of Communication, the College of Education, the College of Science & Engineering and Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences.

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