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Secretary James A. Baker III, Ivan Earls Address '11 Grads

The Honorable James A. Baker III will address the University of St. Thomas 2011 graduating class at the 61st Commencement Ceremony. Commencement will begin at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 14 at Reliant Arena, located at One Reliant Park. The ceremony will celebrate the achievements of 328 undergraduates and 350 graduate students. Commencement will be preceded by a Baccalaureate Mass at 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 13 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 1111 Saint Joseph Pkwy. The celebrant is His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo.

A native Houstonian, Baker has served in senior government positions under three United States Presidents.  He served as the nation's 61st Secretary of State under President George H. W. Bush.  During his tenure at the State Department, Baker traveled to 90 foreign countries as the United States confronted the unprecedented challenges and opportunities of the post–Cold War era.  Baker served as the 67th Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan.  As Treasury Secretary, he was also Chairman of the President's Economic Policy Council.  He also served as White House Chief of Staff to President Reagan.  Baker's record of public service began in 1975 as Under Secretary of Commerce to President Gerald Ford.  It concluded with his service as White House Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor to President Bush from August 1992 to January 1993.

Baker is currently Senior Partner at the Houston-based law firm Baker Botts.  He is Honorary Chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and serves on the board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Baker’s reflections on years of revolution, war and peace, The Politics of Diplomacy, was published in 1995. Baker’s memoir, Work Hard, Study . . . and Keep Out of Politics! Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life, was published in October 2006.

Ivan Earls will take the stage as the student commencement speaker. Earls is a history and theology double major from Pearland. Earls’ speech titled, “Learning from Your Failures” explores how he has developed character out of both his successes and failures.

While at UST, Earls played on the men’s basketball team, served as a residence hall assistant, was active in Campus Ministry, Knights of Columbus and FOCUS. After graduation, Earls will enroll in UST’s Gulf Region Academy for Catholic Educators Program (GRACE), a program where students earn a Master in Education while living in community and teaching in area Catholic schools.

Honorary doctorates will be given to John Patrick Cardinal Foley and Father Patrick Braden, CSB. Cardinal Foley 75, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem retired from his work in Rome due to the illnesses of leukemia and anemia. The honorary doctorate will be presented in person to Cardinal Foley by representatives of the University in his hometown of Philadelphia.

Fr. Braden is a scholar, educator, scientist, researcher, priest and  president emeritus of two universities including UST.  Braden graduated from St. Thomas High School in 1941. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Rice University, and later a master’s and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas. He served in the United States Navy during World War II and was ordained a priest in 1952. He taught mechanical engineering at Rice and math and physics at Aquinas Institute and St. Michael’s College. He taught at the University of St. Thomas and became the first native Texan to serve as the University’s president from 1967-1979. He later served as president at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. He is currently retired, living in the Basilian residence at UST and can frequently be seen riding his bicycle across campus.  

The Vincent J. Guinan Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Bernard “Burney” Hebinck, class of 1955.  Hebinck, an attorney with Hebinck & Alter, P.C, earned a doctorate of jurisprudence from  Georgetown University Law School in 1958.  Hebinck spent more than 28 years as a member of the United States Air Force Reserve, attaining the rank of Colonel, and was issued the Legion of Merit in 1992. Hebinck was instrumental in establishing the by-laws and helped establish the Alumni Association Scholarship. He has served on the UST Alumni Association Board of Directors serving two terms as president and in several other capacities such as treasurer, parliamentarian and chair of several committees. He serves as a Class Agent and freely gives of his time and talent to many events on campus.

For more details about the commencement ceremony, please visit

Watch it on the Web and Send in Your Pictures:
  • For those who cannot attend the Commencement Ceremony in person, a video of the ceremony will be streamed live on the UST home page during the ceremony.
  • The Office of Marketing Communications welcomes submissions of student/parent graduation photos to be featured in a photo gallery on UST’s official facebook page. Please send no more than 5 photos, no larger than 5 MB, to Ronnie Piper at