2,400 to receive degrees

May 7th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus News, Issue, May 7, 2009

Cordes, Walker Sorensen will address grads

Approximately 2,400 students will receive degrees at UNL commencement exercises May 8 and 9.

Chancellor Harvey Perlman will preside at the ceremonies for recipients of master’s and doctoral degrees at the Bob Devaney Sports Center at 3 p.m. May 8 and at the ceremonies for recipients of baccalaureate degrees at 9:30 a.m. May 9. Judy L. Walker, professor of mathematics and graduate chair in mathematics at UNL, will address the May 8 postgraduate ceremony. Chemist Eugene “Gene” Cordes will address the baccalaureate ceremony and receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

College of Law commencement exercises will begin at 3 p.m. May 9 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Theodore C. “Ted” Sorensen, former special counsel and adviser to President John F. Kennedy, will address the 121 graduates. Steven Willborn, dean of the college, will preside.

A retired chemistry and pharmacy educator, Cordes was born near Papillion and grew up in Grand Island before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and his doctorate in biochemistry at Brandeis University. He served 17 years on the chemistry faculty at Indiana University, including six as department chair, then several years in private industry with Merck and Eastman Kodak before returning to academics at the University of Michigan in 1999. He was board chairman for Vitae Pharmaceuticals from 2002 until his retirement in 2006.

Although not a UNL graduate, Cordes is a strong supporter of the university and its Department of Chemistry, serving on the department’s industrial advisory board since 1994 and as its advisory board chair since 2000. He and his wife, Shirley, endowed the Elmer “Ike” H. and Ruby M. Cordes Chair in Chemistry at the University of Nebraska Foundation in honor of his parents, lifelong Nebraskans.

Sorensen practiced international law for more than 36 years in the prominent U.S. law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. A former chairman of the firm’s International Practice Committee, he has represented U.S. and multinational corporations in negotiations with governments all over the world, and has advised and assisted a large number of foreign governments and government leaders. Sorensen is a Lincoln native and graduate of the University of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska College of Law. His memoir, “Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History,” was published in May 2008.

An award-winning teacher and mentor, Walker received the Deborah and Franklin Haimo Award for Distinguished or University Teaching of Mathematics from the Mathematical Association of America in 2006, and is the principal investigator in $2.4 million National Science Foundation mathematics graduate mentoring program. One of the founding organizers of the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics, Walker represented UNL and her department at the White House in 1998, receiving the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from President Bill Clinton. Walker joined the UNL math faculty as an assistant professor 1996 and rose to professor in 2006

UNL officials encourage those planning to attend the main ceremonies May 9 to use the 27th Street entrance to State Fair Park and park in the paved lots east of the Devaney Center. Handicap accessible shuttle buses will be available for easy access to the Devaney Center entrance. Handicap permit parking will be available on the north side of the Devaney Center.

All ceremonies are free and open to the public, and tickets are not required. The baccalaureate commencement exercises May 9 will be Web-streamed live from the Devaney Center through a link at the UNL Web site (www.unl.edu).

Because of security concerns, parcels, handbags and camera bags will be subject to search.

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