Aug. 14, 2013
COPY BY: Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, firstname.lastname@example.org
Byrd to Speak at WTAMU Summer Commencement
CANYON, Texas—Dr. Gary Byrd, professor of psychology at West Texas A&M University, will serve as the keynote speaker when the University conducts its summer commencement exercises at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16 at the First United Bank Center on campus.
A total of 379 students have applied for summer graduation, including 264 undergraduates and 115 graduate students.
Each year the summer commencement speaker is the current recipient of the University’s coveted Magister Optimus Award. The award, which translates to “best teacher” was presented to Byrd last fall for the 2012-2013 academic year. Byrd joined the WTAMU faculty in 1975 as an assistant professor of psychology. He was named a full professor in 1983 and served as department head for behavioral sciences for 11 years. He also served as the special assistant to WTAMU’s president from 1997-2005 after earning a fellowship from the Texas A&M Chancellor’s Center for Academic Leadership.
Through the years, Byrd has taught 22 different psychology courses and established the psychology lab in 1975. The lab offered first-time research experiences for many students and yielded countless scholarly achievements for students and faculty alike. He is the co-author of more than 60 journal publications and presentations at research conferences and the author of 11 grants. He is responsible for the creation of the master’s program in school psychology and initiated the establishment of a concentration in neuroscience. Byrd also was a co-originator for WTAMU’s master’s degree in psychology.
During his more than 35 years at WTAMU, Byrd has received the University’s Teaching Excellence Award, the Graduate Faculty Member of the Year Award, Student Government’s Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year Award and last year’s Magister Optimus Award. He has served on Faculty Senate for seven years, spending five of those years as its president. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Texas Tech University.
West Texas A&M University conducts three commencement ceremonies each year in December, May and August.