Commencement Exercises

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Keynote Speaker Craig VenterJ. Craig Venter, Ph.D.
Commencement Address

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, celebrating 20 years of innovation in biomedical science research and education, proudly announces that the commencement address for the 2014 Commencement Exercises will be delivered by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., regarded as one of the leading scientists of the 21st century for his numerous invaluable contributions to genomic research. He is Founder, Chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit, research organization with approximately 300 scientists and staff dedicated to human, microbial, plant, synthetic and environmental genomic research, and the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics.

Dr. Venter is also Founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics Inc (SGI), a privately held company dedicated to commercializing genomic-driven solutions to address global needs such as new sources of energy, new food and nutritional products, and next generation vaccines.

Dr. Venter began his formal education after a tour of duty as a Navy Corpsman in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. After earning both a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and a Ph.D. in Physiology and Pharmacology from the University of California at San Diego, he was appointed professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In 1984, he moved to the National Institutes of Health campus where he developed Expressed Sequence Tags or ESTs, a revolutionary new strategy for rapid gene discovery. In 1992 Dr. Venter founded The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR, now part of JCVI), a not-for-profit research institute, where in 1995 he and his team decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae, using his new whole genome shotgun technique.

In 1998, Dr. Venter founded Celera Genomics to sequence the human genome using new tools and techniques he and his team developed. This research culminated with the February 2001 publication of the human genome in the journal, Science. He and his team at Celera also sequenced the fruit fly, mouse and rat genomes.

Dr. Venter and his team at JCVI continue to blaze new trails in genomics. They have sequenced and analyzed hundreds of genomes, and have published numerous important papers covering such areas as environmental genomics, the first complete diploid human genome, and the groundbreaking advance in creating the first self- replicating bacterial cell constructed entirely with synthetic DNA. 

Dr. Venter is one of the most frequently cited scientists, and the author of more than 250 research articles. He is also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, public honors, and scientific awards, including the 2008 United States National Medal of Science, the 2002 Gairdner Foundation International Award, the 2001 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize and the King Faisal International Award for Science. Dr. Venter is a member of numerous prestigious scientific organizations including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Society for Microbiology.

General Information

GSBS Commencement Exercises
Will Rogers Memorial Center Auditorium
3401 West Lancaster Avenue, Fort Worth, TX  76107
Friday, May 16, 2014
4:00 p.m.

If you need a disability accommodation to fully participate in this program/event, please contact Carla Lee Johnson, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at 817-735-2560 or by May 2, 2014.  

Academic Hooding

The hooding ceremony honors the relationship between the faculty mentor and the graduating student. The mentor places the hood of the regalia over the head of the graduate, signifying his or her success in completing the graduate program. The ceremony is similar to a graduation in that faculty and students are dressing in academic attire.

Academic Regalia

The pageantry and dress of the academic procession are inherited from the medieval universities of the 11th and 12th centuries. Academic life as we know it began inthe Middle Ages, first in the church and, later, in the teaching guilds, where dress was the outward sign of privilege and responsibility.

Principal features of academic dress are the gown, cap and hood. In 1895, American universities agreed upon a definite system of academic dress, which was revised in 1932 and, for the most part, reflects the style of today.

While it originally may have been worn as protection against the cold of unheated buildings, the flowing gown today is a symbol of the democracy of scholarship. It is typically black for all degrees. The doctoral degree is faced down the front with velvet, and its sleeves are trimmed with three bars of velvet in the color representative of the faculty or discipline to which the degree pertains.

The academic cap is a sign of freedom of scholarship, and the responsibility and dignity with which scholarship endows the wearer. The color of the tassel denotes the discipline.

The hood is trimmed with one or more chevrons of a secondary color on the ground of the primary color of the college. The color of the facing denotes the discipline represented by the degree. The color of the lining designates the college or university from which the degree was granted.

Academic regalia for University of North Texas Health Science Center is distinctive. Graduates receiving degrees from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences wear hoods lined in green and white. Doctoral candidates have gowns and hoods trimmed in blue for philosophy. Master of Science candidates receive hoods trimmed in gold for science. The mortar board tassel for all GSBS graduates is gold, indicative of science.

The medallion worn by some faculty is the Academic Commendation for Excellence, given to faculty who have received the highest possible ranking on their post-tenure reviews. The blue and white silk cords worn by some faculty and graduates signify membership in Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.

Students may click here for information on renting or purchasing academic regalia. Faculty members who do not own their regalia may make rental arrangements through the Office of Student Development ( 

Academic Procession

Guests are seated in the ballroom before the academic processional begins. The platform party, consisting of the keynote speaker, deans, department chairs, alumni board representative, and faculty hooders, leads the procession. The faculty members follow in order of rank, lead by a Regents Professor who carries the GSBS banner. Lastly, the degree candidates enter with Doctor of Philosophy candidates following the Master of Science candidates. At the closing of the ceremony, the platform party, faculty and graduates recess in the same order.

Program Sequence

Graduates and Faculty dress in academic regalia (3:30 p.m.)
Auditorium Doors Open to Guests (3:30 p.m.)
Processional (4:00 p.m.)
Opening Remarks
Keynote Address
Presentation of Hoods
Conferral of Degrees
Recessional (5:30 p.m.)

Instructions for Participants

All graduates, faculty and members of the platform party are asked to report, dressed in academic regalia, by 3:30 p.m. There will be no security for personal items such as cameras and handbags during the ceremony.

This page last updated 06th May 2014