Human Rights Advocate Frances ‘Sissy’ Tarlton Farenthold, Other Luminaries Featured at UH Commencement

The first woman nominated for vice president of the United States, Frances "Sissy" Tarlton Farenthold, will share lessons from her amazing life as a Texas legislator, human rights advocate and educator with social work students graduating from the University of Houston.  

            Farenthold will be one of many distinguished guests participating at this year's commencement ceremonies, which take place Friday, May 13, and Saturday, May 14. Alumnus and former astronaut Bernard Harris will be among the luminaries. UH will bestow Harris and two other recipients with the President's Medallion and will present two honorary degrees.

            Commencement festivities begin at 9 a.m., May 13, with the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Later that day at 1 p.m., Farenthold will give the keynote address at the Graduate College of Social Work ceremony in Cullen Performance Hall.

            A Texas native, Farenthold was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1968. She was one of only two women in the Legislature at the time. From 1976 to 1980, Farenthold served as the first female president of Wells College. During her tenure at the college, she founded the Public Leadership Education Network, a national organization focused on preparing women for leadership in the public policy arena. Farenthold also has served as a human rights observer in Iraq, El Salvador, Honduras, South Korea, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba and the former Soviet Union.

            Other commencement speakers include Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and senior vice president, legal and corporate affairs. Smith will give remarks at the UH Law Center's graduation, which starts at 2 p.m., May 14, at Hofheinz Pavilion. At 9 a.m., May 13, in Cullen Performance Hall, pharmacy students will hear from Dennis Golden, former UH System regent, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board member and chief of staff of Golden Eye Associates. Long-time UH supporter Dr. J. Davis Armistead will offer words of wisdom to optometry students at 1 p.m., May 14 in Cullen Performance Hall. For 12 years, Armistead served on the UH System Board of Regents. The building housing UH's College of Optometry is named after him.

            During commencement weekend, UH also will recognize several individuals for their contributions to the campus and society. The university will confer honorary degrees to three men-Holocaust survivor and speaker Walter Kase; alumnus and inventor Kenneth Parr; and Dr. Herman D. Suit, Andres Soriano Distinguished Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, alumnus and philanthropist.

            Harris, the first African-American to walk in space, and Dr. Richard Wainerdi, president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center, will receive President's Medallions. The third recipient of the President's Medallion is D. Ronald "Ron" Harrell, chairman emeritus of Ryder Scott Company Petroleum consultants, UH donor and founding member and chair of the UH Petroleum Engineering Advisory Board.

Friday, May 13:

  • 9 a.m. -- College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Hofheinz Pavilion
  • 9 a.m. -- College of Pharmacy, Cullen Performance Hall. Speaker is Dennis Golden, former UH System regent, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board member and chief of staff of Golden Eye Associates
  • 1 p.m. -- Graduate College of Social Work, Cullen Performance Hall. Speaker is Frances "Sissy" Tarlton Farenthold, former Texas legislator, human rights advocate
  • 2 p.m. -- Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and Colleges of Technology, Education, Hofheinz Pavilion
  • 6 p.m. -- Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, Cullen College of Engineering and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Hofheinz Pavilion

Saturday, May 14:

  • 9 a.m. -- Bauer College of Business, Hofheinz Pavilion
  • 1 p.m. -- College of Optometry 1 p.m., Cullen Performance Hall. Speaker is Dr. J. Davis Armistead
  • 2 p.m. -- Law Center, Hofheinz Pavilion. Speaker is Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel and senior vice president, legal and corporate affairs


About the University of Houston

               The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 38,500 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.