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LCU Starts New Student Tradition in Graduation Ceremonies Kathleen Wyly
Apr. 30, 2013


Lubbock Christian University will hold commencement ceremonies May 3 and 4 and start a new tradition in the undergraduate ceremony. The ceremony for those graduating with a Master’s degree will be at 7:30pm on Friday, May 3rd in the McDonald Moody Auditorium with 49 graduate students walking the stage. The undergraduate ceremony will be at 10am in the Rip Griffin Center with 193 students receiving their Bachelor’s degree.

President Tim Perrin has added a new element to the LCU Undergraduate Commencement for this spring, in which he will introduce a graduating student speaker to make a presentation about their LCU experience. Students have not had the honor to speak at graduation in the past, but President Perrin thought this would be an opportunity for the audience to catch a glimpse of how special LCU is to its students.

“Graduation ceremonies are, at their heart, about the graduates. They are a celebration of the accomplishments and achievements of students, marking an important milestone in their lives,” said President Perrin. “Thus, I’m pleased that we will have one of our graduating seniors speak on behalf of her fellow students as part of our undergraduate commencement exercises this spring. It will help to give voice to the student experience at LCU and will serve as a vivid reminder of the many inspiring stories of perseverance and dedication represented among our graduates.”

Kristen Vander-Plas has been selected to be the first student to give an address at the undergraduate commencement ceremony. Her speech will be on the analogy of roots. Ms. Vander-Plas is from Lubbock and majored in Humanities, Specialization, and Political Science at LCU, minoring in History, English, Law, and Government. While attending LCU, Vander-Plas has been involved in the University Honors program and has presented her research at national, regional, and local conferences. Vander-Plas will be going to Texas Tech University School of Law in August of 2013. After graduating from law school, Vander-Plas hopes to become a prosecutor with the Lubbock District Attorney's Office.

Following this new element of a student speaker, President Perrin will introduce the featured speaker, a LCU commencement ceremony tradition. This year’s Undergraduate Commencement address will be given by Judge James O. Browning who will receive an honorary doctorate degree from LCU during the ceremony.

“I’m overjoyed that Judge James Browning will serve as our commencement speaker,” expressed President Perrin. “He is a distinguished jurist and an accomplished lawyer and serves as a wonderful model for our graduates of a life lived with great integrity and a clear sense of purpose. We are honored by his presence with us.”

Judge Browning has served with distinction as a leading attorney and jurist for three decades. In August of 2003, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, an appointment he continues to hold. Browning’s roots are in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. He was born in Levelland, Texas, and raised in Hobbs, New Mexico. His grandmother, Getty Goodpasture, attended Lubbock Christian College in 1958 and 1959 during the second and third years of the school’s operation, and his daughter, Elizabeth Browning Bell, graduated from LCU in 2006 with a Psychology degree.

Judge Browning obtained his bachelor’s degree from Yale University, playing varsity football and graduating with a degree, magna cum laude, in Political Science. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1981, serving as the editor-in-chief of the Virginia Law Review and earning membership in the Raven Society and the Order of the Coif.

Following law school, Browning served as law clerk to the late Collins J. Seitz, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1981-1982) and to the late Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States (1982-1983). He then returned to New Mexico where he served as a shareholder and director at one of New Mexico’s oldest and largest firms, Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin, & Robb, before starting his own firm, Browning and Peifier, PA in 1990. From 1987 to 1988, Judge Browning served as Deputy Attorney General of the State of New Mexico.

Browning has been an adjunct professor of the University of New Mexico School of Law, teaching “Church and State.” He currently serves as a guest lecturer and moot court participant at the UNM School of Law as well as other universities.

Judge Browning is a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Administration of the Bankruptcy System, appointed by Chief Justice John Roberts to a second term on this judicial committee. He serves on the Judgeships Subcommittee and on one of the Committee’s cost containment small groups focusing on, among other things, staffing, pay, and salary progression. In February 2011, Chief Justice Roberts appointed Judge Browning to the Dodd-Frank Study Working Group, which produces the Administrative Office of the Court’s report required under the Dodd-Frank legislation. Judge Browning will serve as chairman of that working group in 2012-2013.

The New Mexico Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates named Judge Browning the Outstanding Federal Jurist for 2009 and 2013.

Judge Browning has been married to his wife, Jan, for thirty-four years. They have three adult children and two grandchildren. Judge Browning is a member of the Montgomery Church of Christ in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he has been an elder and a deacon in the past.

For more information or to watch graduation live, visit Graduation Events Page


Last Updated: Aug 05, 2014