William Woods University Plans Commencement Aug. 5

An award-winning William Woods University professor will address the August graduates during WWU’s ninth summer commencement Friday, Aug. 5.

Fulton resident Linda McClaren, an associate professor of equestrian science, will give the commencement speech. She is the 2005 recipient of the Louis D. Beaumont Dad’s Association Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching at WWU.

A total of 211 students will graduate. With increased campus enrollment and the growth of the university’s outreach programs, William Woods now holds graduation ceremonies in May, August and December each year. The combined total of graduates in the past 12 months is 1,056.

The commencement ceremony and hooding of candidates for graduate degrees will be held at 6 p.m. in Cutlip Auditorium of the McNutt Campus Center. The university will grant 10 associate of art, 24 bachelor of science, 52 master of business administration, 113 master of education and 12 specialist of education in school administration degrees.

Students from Graduate and Adult Studies cohorts in Bowling Green, Chillicothe, Columbia, El Dorado Springs, Fulton, Jefferson City, Joplin/Neosho, Marble Hill, Montgomery City, Poplar Bluff and Republic will receive their diplomas.

In addition, approximately 49 students from the Southeast Asian island of Taiwan will graduate. William Woods has had a program of educating students from Taiwan since 1992.

The university partners with an organization that specializes in overseas studies to bring Taiwanese students to Fulton for a year of concentrated studies, culminating in either bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

The commencement speaker, McClaren, has taught at the university since 1996, and is the hunter/jumper program director.

McClaren is currently pursuing her doctorate in instructional design for online learning from the School of Education at Capella University in Minneapolis, Minn. She received her two earlier degrees from William Woods, a bachelor of science degree in 1977 and a master of education degree in 1997.

During the 20 years she spent out of school between earning the first two degrees, she taught riding, trained and showed horses at the “A” level from Pre Green Hunters through Grand Prix. She has shown horses and coached riders to both national and world championships.

As a trainer, McClaren earned the Iowa Nebraska Hunter Jumper Association Trainer of the Year award in 1992, and the Missouri Horse Shows Association Trainer of the Year award in 1999 and 2001. She currently is serving her second term on the board of directors for the Missouri Horse Shows Association.

McClaren is the founder and program director for C.I.R.C.L.E.S. (Community Inner Reach: Children Learning Equestrian Skills), a William Woods program that aims to teach youngsters responsibility through the care and riding of horses.

Since its beginning in 2000, the program has enrolled more than 100 at-risk children (primarily fifth graders) from the Fulton community. C.I.R.C.L.E.S. won the 2005 Martin Luther King Commission Award as an organization emulating the ideals and values of the late Civil Rights leader.