Commencement events are this weekend

An estimated 1,708 students are completing Iowa State degrees this week and many of them will celebrate the milestone this weekend in a cap and gown. As of Dec. 10, the registrar's office reported that 110 doctoral candidates and 210 master's students are scheduled to graduate. They'll be joined by an estimated 1,388 students completing their bachelor's degrees.

All students will be honored during a single commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 15, beginning at 1:30 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum. Tickets are not required.

Lt. Gov. and former Iowa Senator Kim Reynolds will give the commencement address. Her talk is titled "The Power of the Unknown and You." Among her many duties as lieutenant governor, Reynolds serves as co-chair of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council, whose goal is to increase student interest, participation and achievement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields in order to provide the state with a skilled workforce.

Honorary degree

During the ceremony, Iowa State will confer an honorary Doctor of Science degree on James Barnard, one of the world's leading environmental engineers. The South Africa native is renowned for his innovative research in water quality, particularly wastewater treatment. Since the 1970s, he has focused on using biological methods, such as algae, on a massive scale instead of expensive chemicals to remove nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) from wastewater. This, in turn, prevents excessive algae growth that can lead to environmental impacts such as the "dead zone" where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

Faculty members in the civil, environmental and construction engineering department prepared Barnard's honorary degree nomination.

Colleges will honor their own graduating students during college events on Friday and Saturday. The ISU Alumni Association will host a reception for all graduates and their guests at the alumni center immediately after the commencement ceremony.

Summer graduates

About 825 Iowa State students who completed their degrees during the summer term have the option of participating in either the May or December commencement events.