UTPB will hold Fall Commencement Ceremonies on Saturday, December 17, 2016. 404 graduates will receive their diplomas in two ceremonies held at the Wagner Noël Performing
Arts Center, 1310 N. FM1788, Midland, Texas 79707.
An acclaimed poet, Ms. Loretta Walker will give the commencement address at both of the 10
a.m. and 2 p.m. ceremonies. Walker teaches music at Reagan Elementary in Odessa, Texas. She
graduated from Ector High School, received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Texas
Tech University and earned a Master’s of Elementary Education from the University of Texas at
the Permian Basin.
Ms. Walker is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Permian Basin Poetry
Society. She is also a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, the Poetry Society
of Texas, the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, Texas Mountain Trail Writers, the National Federation
of State Poetry Societies, and serves as a volunteer at the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center.
In addition, she is a multiple Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her poems and essays appear in publications
throughout the United States, Canada, and the UK. Her book Word Ghetto won the 2011
Blue Light Press Book Award. Miss Walker was elected as the 2014 “Community Statesman in
the Arts” by the Heritage of Odessa Foundation. Her most recent work of poetry is entitled In
Wesley Burnett will give the alumni address. Burnett currently serves as the Director of Economic
Development for the Odessa Texas Chamber of Commerce. He began his duties there in
September of 2016 after 10 years as the Director of Economic Development in Andrews, Texas.
Prior to his years in Andrews, Wesley was the Director of Business Retention and Expansion for
the Odessa Chamber of Commerce from 1999 until 2006. He also served as the President and
CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and Development Corporation in Jacksonville,
Texas from 1996 to 1999.
Wesley is a Certified Economic Developer with over 20 years’ experience in the field. He is a
1991 graduate of UT Permian Basin with a degree in Political Science and a 2006 graduate with
a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. He is also a graduate of the Economic Development
Institute and the Institute for Organizational Management.
The Spanish Convocation will be held at 12 pm in the Rea Greathouse Recital Hall. This ceremony
honors graduates from Spanish speaking families.
All parking areas will be available for open parking. Car pooling and early arrival is recommended.
Following each commencement, a reception will be held in the Lobby.