News >

Dec. 1, 2009
Contact: Steve Rottinghaus, Baker University public relations director, (785) 594-8330 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Commencement ceremonies planned for Dec. 12-13

Baldwin City, Kan. — Baker University’s fall commencement ceremonies will be Dec. 12-13 at the George F. Collins Sports and Convention Center on the Baldwin City campus. More than 250 undergraduate students and more than 260 graduate students are candidates for degrees.

The School of Professional and Graduate Studies graduate students will be recognized at 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 12. The School of Education graduate degree ceremony will be at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 12. The ceremony for undergraduates in the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education and School of Nursing and School of Professional and Graduate Studies will be at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13.

Families and friends are invited to receptions for the graduates at 2:30 p.m. both days at Harter Union lobby.

Dr. Teresa M. Wesley will be the keynote speaker at the 1 p.m. ceremony on Saturday. An advocate for using health information to enlighten and educate patients, Dr. Wesley is a physician practicing internal medicine at Heartland Clinic in Platte City, Missouri. In addition to practicing medicine, Dr. Wesley is a motivational speaker, mentor, medical moderator/commentator and health writer. She has appeared on the Montel Williams Show and Black Entertainment Television Rap-It-UP forums that promote HIV/AIDS awareness. She is a mentor and career panelist for the Magic Johnson Foundation and a mentor for the University of Kansas and University of Missouri of Kansas City medical students. Author of “Vision, Faith, and Resilience,” released in April 2007, Dr. Wesley was honored in 2009 with the Heart of America Ethics in Business Award.

Andy Tompkins, dean of Pittsburg State University’s College of Education, will speak at the 4:30 p.m. ceremony on Saturday. Before his appointment at the university in 2007, Tompkins was as a high school English teacher, high school principal, superintendent, university professor and Commissioner of Education for the state of Kansas.  His honors include recognition as the Kansas Superintendent of the Year in 1992, induction into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame in 2001, recipient of the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s Governor’s Award in 2002 and the Leadership Kansas Alumnus of the Year Award in 2002. Tompkins also has served as a Kansas commissioner to the Education Commission of the States since 1995. Tompkins earned a bachelor's degree in English from East Central State University, a master's degree in educational administration from Emporia State University and a doctorate in education from the University of Kansas.

The Rev. Ira L. DeSpain, minister to Baker University since 1992, will speak to the undergraduates at the Sunday ceremony. Before returning to his alma mater 17 years ago, the Rev. DeSpain served as a pastor at churches in rural, urban and suburban settings. As a member of the Kansas East Conference, DeSpain has served on the Board of Trustees, Board of Ordained Ministry and Board of Diaconal Ministry. At Baker, he leads a weekly multidenominational worship service at Osborne Memorial Chapel, serves on the Administrative Cabinet, the Baker Outreach Network and The University Diversity Committee. DeSpain is the staff adviser to the Student Activities Council and Kappa Sigma fraternity, and has been involved in coordinating service-learning and community service work opportunities for students. His honors include the Francis Asbury Award in 2002 for his contributions to United Methodist-related higher education, excellence in teaching recognition from the Baker School of Professional and Graduate Studies, and being named outstanding community member by the Student Activities Council three times. DeSpain graduated with a communication degree from Baker in 1970. He was awarded a Master of Divinity Degree from the St. Paul School of Theology in 1973 and a Doctor of Ministry from Perkins School of Theology from Southern Methodist University in 2000. His wife, Barbara, and children, Jennifer and Daniel, all graduated from Baker.