Nearly 600 students at the University of Missouri–St. Louis received a coveted gift Saturday, one they’ve been working on for years. Commencement ceremonies were held at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 15 in the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center on the university’s North Campus.
Elizabeth Fitzgerald, president of the nationally acclaimed Magic House, delivered the commencement address and also received an honorary degree at the 10 a.m. ceremony. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UMSL in 1977 and has directed the museum since it opened to the public in 1979. Fitzgerald has grown the Magic House from a small nonprofit located in a Victorian house to a destination of more than 25,000 square feet serving over 400,000 people annually.
Also receiving an honorary degree at the same ceremony was Gary Stangler, longtime director of the Missouri Department of Social Services and now executive director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. Much of Stangler’s work has been dedicated to helping youth in foster care make successful transitions to adulthood. He is the co-author of the book “On Their Own: What Happens to Kids When They Age Out of the Foster Care System.”
A third honorary degree was conferred on Harry Orf, senior vice president for research management at the Massachusetts General Hospital, at the 2 p.m. ceremony. Orf earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UMSL in 1971 and a doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Orf has held a number of prestigious appointments including the inaugural director of biochemical laboratories at Harvard and vice president for scientific operations and professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Fla.
Details of the commencement ceremonies are as follows:
10 a.m. Ceremony
College of Education, College of Nursing, College of Fine Arts and Communication, School of Social Work, Bachelor of General Studies and Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Master in Public Policy Administration
Honorary degree recipients: Elizabeth Fitzgerald and Gary Stengler
Speaker: Elizabeth Fitzgerald
2 p.m. Ceremony
College of Arts and Sciences
Honorary degree recipient: Harry Orf
Speaker: Karen J. Aroesty, regional director, Anti-Defamation League of Missouri and Southern Illinois
6 p.m. Ceremony
College of Business Administration, University of Missouri–St. Louis/Washington University Joint Engineering Program, MU Science and Technology-Engineering Education Center
Speaker: Mark Trudeau, president of Mallinckrodt