VANCOUVER, Wash. — Congressman Brian Baird will give the keynote address at Washington State University Vancouver’s 14th commencement ceremonies scheduled for 1 p.m., Saturday, May 17, on the campus plaza.

It will be the first commencement address for the Washington congressman, who has served the people of the Third Congressional District since 1998. Before entering politics, Dr. Baird, a licensed psychologist, chaired the psychology department at Pacific Lutheran University. He received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Utah in 1977, followed by a master’s degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Wyoming.

Baird is the author of two books, “The Internship and Practicum Handbook” and “Are We Having Fun Yet?,” which combines his love of the outdoors with practical, psychological advice for couples and families considering outdoor pursuits.

During Baird’s time in Congress, he served as president of his freshman democratic class and is now a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Highways and Transits Subcommittees. Currently he serves as Senior Democratic Whip.

WSU Vancouver will grant a total of 614 degrees this year, including 142 master’s degrees and one doctoral degree. Nearly 40 percent of the undergraduates achieved honors distinction. Diplomas will be presented during the commencement program by WSU President V. Lane Rawlins and WSU Vancouver Chancellor Hal Dengerink, with other WSU representatives also in attendance. Wendy Breitmayer, a human development graduate this year, will sing the National Anthem.

The ceremony will include the following student, faculty and community awards:

–The Chancellor’s Award for Student Achievement will be presented to human development graduate Robin Shanafelt. When she lost her husband during a random shooting in 1997, Shanafelt turned that loss into a remarkable achievement by co-founding SAFES, an organization that advocates systems change in the cause of restorative justice. Along with a long list of community involvement, Shanafelt also managed to raise three children, hold paid employment and serve in campus office. On Saturday she will graduate summa cum laude.

–The student body will honor Dr. Suzanne Smith, associate professor of human development, with the Student’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

–Sherry Lilley and Sunrise O’Mahoney will be recognized as recipients of the 2003 President’s Award. They are among 80 students honored university-wide for service to WSU.

–The Chancellor’s Award for Service to WSU Vancouver will be given to Scott Campbell, owner and publisher of The Columbian, and Renee Hoeksel, director of nursing programs at WSU Vancouver. Campbell served as president of the WSU Vancouver Advisory Council for 10 years and played a key role in much of the campus’ remarkable growth during the past decade. During this same period, Dr. Hoeksel built WSU Vancouver’s nursing programs from a fledgling BSN program of eight students to one comprised of 120 students pursuing both bachelor’s and master’s degree programs taught by a fulltime faculty of eight.

–Dr. John Bishop, assistant professor of biological sciences, is the recipient of the 2003 Research Excellence Award. He will also receive a $500 award.

Following the ceremony, graduates and their guests are invited to attend an off-campus reception hosted by the Associated Students of Washington State University Vancouver (ASWSUV).

For further information, please contact Nancy Godson, communications coordinator, at (360)546-9602.