The University of New Mexico hosts two commencement ceremonies this weekend, Friday-Saturday, May 16-17, recognizing graduate degree students and baccalaureate and associate degrees students separately. The idea came from UNM President Robert Frank who wants to create an atmosphere that most effectively recognizes the successes of both graduate and undergraduate students.

“Commencement is a time to recognize the efforts of our graduates and a time for those who have supported our students to relish in their accomplishments," Frank said. “Earning a bachelor’s degree is very different from earning a Masters or Ph.D., so we want to honor each individually to allow family and friends time to focus on their graduate in a more intimate setting.”

The festivities begin Friday, May 16 at 6 p.m. in Johnson Arena for approximately 400 graduate degree students. The graduate ceremony, originally scheduled in Popejoy Hall, was moved to Johnson Arena due to the level of interest. Dean of Graduate Studies Julie Coonrod will preside as master of ceremonies with David Hovda delivering the keynote address.

The ceremony for an expected 1,000 baccalaureate and associates degree recipients is Saturday, May 17 at 9 a.m. at University Arena. Faculty Senate President Richard Holder will presides as master of ceremonies with Lamek “Humble” Lukanga delivering the keynote address. 

Tickets for guests are not required, but graduates are asked to limit their number of guests to no more than eight (8).

UNM graduates enter University Arena during the processional. Photo courtesy Bobby Tamayo Photography.

For a complete schedule of ceremonies, including convocations, visit: UNM Graduation.

Not only will the two ceremonies provide for a shorter and more personal approach to graduation, it will also help UNM in preparing for the future. “We expect to be graduating a lot more students in the coming years,” Frank said.

Hovda,the guest speaker for the graduate ceremony, is a leading expert on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at UCLA, division of Neurosurgery. He received his BA in Psychology (1979); his MS in Psychobiology (1982); and his Ph.D. in Psychobiology (1985), all from UNM.

“David Hovda is a remarkable UNM success story,” Frank said. “It will be great for our grad students to hear from one of our own who works among the biggest and best in his field.”

Lukanga, the guest speaker for the undergraduate ceremony, was 11-years-old when he and his family were granted asylum in the U.S. after years of enduring civil wars, genocide and poverty in Uganda, East Africa. He graduated from UNM with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a master’s degree in Business Administration. Lukanga founded Life Line Financial Group, one of the top business management firms in the country that manages finances and business affairs for some of the biggest names in the professional sports and entertainment industries. New Mexico Business Weekly has recognized him as a “Top 40 under Forty” business leader.

“Humble has an amazing story,” Frank said. “His enthusiasm for UNM is remarkable. His optimism for life: extraordinary. He will be very inspiring for our undergraduates. The way he tells his story will capture the heart of everyone in attendance.”