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Commencement ceremonies announced

PULLMAN – More than 2,400 undergraduate and graduate students are expected to participate in WSU’s 112th spring commencement, Saturday, May 3, at Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.

Three ceremonies will be held.

At 8 a.m. graduates in the agricultural, human, and natural resource sciences; engineering and architecture; pharmacy; sciences; and veterinary medicine will receive their degrees.  Rajiv J. Shah, director for agricultural development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will be the featured speaker.

Shah manages global programs at the Gates Foundation to improve agricultural productivity in order to reduce poverty and hunger in the developing world. He managed the foundation’s $1.5 billion Vaccine Fund and proposed the International Finance Facility for Immunization, which will issue immunization bonds to raise $4 billion for vaccinating poor children, saving an estimated five million children’s lives through the next decade.

Shah earned his medical doctor degree from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, a master’s in Health Economics from the Wharton School of Business and undergraduate degrees from the University of Michigan and the London School of Economics.

At the 11:30 a.m. ceremony, LeRoy Ashby, the Claudius O. and Mary Johnson Distinguished Professor of History and a WSU Regents professor, will address graduates in liberal arts.

Ashby, who will retire this year after a 42-year teaching career, is the author of “With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture Since 1830,” (2006); “Endangered Children: Dependency, Neglect and Abuse in American History” (1997); “I” (1997); “Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church” (1994); “William Jennings Bryan: Champion of Democracy” (1987); “Saving the Waifs; Reformers and Dependent Children” (1984); and “The Spearless Leader: Senator Borah and the Progressive Movement in the 1920s” (1972).

Ashby’s undergraduate classes on 20th century American history have been among the most popular electives on campus for the past 30 years. He holds an associate degree from Mesa College, Colo.; a bachelor’s degree from Adams State College, Colo.; a master’s from the University of Wyoming; and a doctoral degree from the University of Maryland.

Tom Vander Ark, president of the X PRIZE Foundation, will speak at the 3 p.m. ceremony for business, education and nursing graduates.

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute with the mission to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. It created the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for the world’s first private vehicle to fly in space and the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for genomics, which will reward the first private effort to map 100 human genomes in 10 days.

Vander Ark has experience in the non-profit sector as an executive director of education for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and in the private sector in retail, energy, telecommunications and business companies. He has a MBA in Energy Finance from the University of Denver and a bachelor’s degree from the Colorado School of Mines.

WSU President Elson S. Floyd will preside at all three ceremonies. This will be the last commencement ceremony for Provost Robert Bates, who is completing his tenure as WSU provost. Commencement ceremonies are open to the public; no tickets are required.

For those unable to attend the event, the commencement ceremony will also be videostreamed at

Various colleges, departments and programs will be holding receptions for their graduates in conjunction with Saturday’s commencement ceremonies. A listing of those and other commencement-related events is available at

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