ABILENE, Texas, May 10, 2022 — McMurry University will hold its graduation ceremony at Wilford Moore Stadium on Saturday, May 14, at 10:00 a.m. The University will confer degrees on 195 students who have completed their coursework in December 2021, May 2022, and August 2022. In addition to celebrating its graduates, McMurry will honor well known Abilene photographer and historian Bill Wright with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
“McMurry is looking forward to welcoming families to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates,” President Sandra S. Harper, Ph.D., said. “McMurry chose to hold commencement in Wilford Moore Stadium this year so we could welcome a larger number of guests to celebrate with our graduates. We know how important it is to families to be a part of the ceremony.”
McMurry alumnus Arthur “Art” L. Pertile, III, J.D., will be the featured commencement speaker. Pertile, a 1983 graduate, earned a Bachelor of Arts from McMurry before obtaining his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. He has represented governmental entities and public officials for over 35 years. Pertile is the 2018 McMurry University Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient and a 2003 McMurry Hall of Honor intercollegiate athletics inductee. He served on the McMurry Alumni board and is currently a member of the McMurry University Board of Trustees. Appointed by the Texas governor, Pertile served 10 years as a commissioner for the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. He also served as a member of the board for the Government Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, Waco Foundation, Waco-McLennan County Bar Association, Parents for Public Schools of Waco, Texas Sports Hall of Fame and YMCA of Central Texas.
President Harper said that Pertile was selected as commencement speaker because he represents the best of McMurry as an engaged student on campus both in the classroom and on the athletic field as well as eventually becoming an accomplished lawyer after graduation. “He is a great role model for our graduates,” said Harper.
McMurry’s 2022 honorary doctorate degree recipient Bill Wright is a consummate community leader, always looking for ways to enhance Abilene through its universities, the arts and education in general.
The University is honoring him because of his ongoing support of the arts and humanities in Abilene, specifically at the Grace Museum, the National Endowment for Humanities, and McMurry’s art department Wright’s latest book, “The Whole Damn Cheese: Maggie Smith, Border Legend,” was featured at a McMurry lecture during which he discussed his research and the subject of his book — a feisty lady in the Big Bend Country before it became a national park. Wright continues to mentor the leadership of McMurry and showcase McMurry faculty members and administrators in his endeavors. He is the epitome of a lifelong learner and servant leader.
McMurry will also recognize students with four leadership awards at commencement: Ginny Carlson Memorial Award to an outstanding senior woman, W. Anthony Hunt Memorial Award to an outstanding senior man, Harry Soladay Memorial Award to an outstanding graduating senior and Don Allen Memorial Award to the outstanding nontraditional graduating senior. The Gordon R. and Lola J. Bennett Award will also be presented to a full-time faculty member for conspicuous accomplishments in furthering the aims of McMurry.
The baccalaureate will be held Friday, May 13, at 5:30 p.m. in Radford Auditorium with featured speaker Bishop Robert Schnase, presiding bishop of the Rio Texas and New Mexico conferences of the United Methodist Church. Before he was elected bishop, Schnase served for 15 years as senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in McAllen, Texas. He also served congregations in Harlingen, Texas, and Great Britain. Schnase is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Perkins School of Theology.