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2015 Spring Commencement


Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 7 p.m.

NRG Stadium  

One NRG Park  Houston, Texas 77054


Watch the Commencement Ceremony Live

Commencement Ceremony Details


  • Honors graduates need to wear their honors medals over their gowns.
  • Phi Theta Kappa and other honor society members need to wear their stoles or cords over their gowns.  Please see your honor society advisor about stoles or cords.
  • To respect the dignity of the ceremony we ask that graduates do not decorate or alter their cap or gown in any way.

Parking and Entering

  • Parking for both graduates and guests will be $12 per car in the Blue Lot of Reliant Park at the Westridge gate entrance off of Kirby.
  • Entry into the stadium will be at the Amegy Bank Gate on the southeast corner of Reliant Stadium.
    • Graduates and guests will be directed once inside the gated plaza area.

 Day of the Ceremony information for graduates

  • Graduates must arrive by 5:30 pm. Please be on time.
  • Graduates will be directed to the check-in and robing areas once inside the stadium.
    • Only graduates with caps and gowns will be allowed in the robing area.
  • Graduates will be lined up alphabetically, separated by degrees and certificates.
  • Graduates will not carry anything onto the stadium floor except the name card provided at check-in.
    • No purses, no cellphones, no bubbles, no balloons, no programs, nothing!
    • Leave belongings with your guests. There will not be a place to store belongings.
  • Dress comfortably for an indoor air-conditioned environment.
  • Graduates will have to walk and stand during the processional – comfortable shoes are encouraged.
  • There will be a professional photographer taking photos.
  • The ceremony will last 2 to 2 ½ hours and graduates will stay on the stadium floor for the entire ceremony.

 Guest Information

  • Gates for guest seating will open at 5:30 pm.  The event will begin promptly at 7pm.
  • Guests will enter through Amegy Bank Gate and will be directed to seating areas.
  • There is no limit to the number of guests who can attend per each graduate.
  • Hearing impaired guests should be seated in Section 128 (interpreters will be provided).
  • No helium balloons will be allowed in NRG Stadium.
  • No strollers can be taken down into the seating areas. 
  • Concession stands will NOT be open.  Guests can bring in water bottles and snacks. 


Featured Speaker: Captain Brian Penoyer, Commander, United States Coast Guard Sector Houston - Galveston


Capt Brian PenoyerCaptain Brian Penoyer assumed command in June 2013, and directs all Coast Guard missions in Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana. Captain Penoyer serves as the Officer in Charge of Marine Inspections, Captain of the Port, Federal Maritime Security Coordinator, Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator, and Federal On-Scene Coordinator for an area spanning from Matagorda Bay, TX, to Lake Charles, LA. Sector Houston-Galveston encompasses seven major port complexes, including five in the top 25 nationally. Each day these ports and waterways contribute over $579 million to our nation’s economy.

Captain Penoyer previously served as a Military Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and as Deputy Chief of Coast Guard Congressional Affairs, where he led the Service’s nationwide congressional engagement strategy. Captain Penoyer also served as Admiral Thad Allen’s liaison in the office of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security during the DEEPWATER HORIZON incident and supported Admiral Allen during the Hurricane Katrina response. Captain Penoyer is a native of the Chicago area and a proud University of Chicago graduate.

A specialist in coastal operations, Captain Penoyer served as Deputy Sector Commander in Baltimore with responsibility for the execution of all Coast Guard missions on the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries; as Chief of Prevention at Sector Baltimore; and as Chief of Port Operations and Planning in Jacksonville, Florida where he formulated and led the Coast Guard’s regional response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In other operational assignments, he inspected foreign and U.S. merchant vessels, led oil spill response teams, and conducted investigations in Alaska during a period of multiple cruise ship groundings and significant, fatal commercial fishing vessel accidents. In his first assignment for the Coast Guard, Captain Penoyer deployed throughout Europe and the Middle East during the 1991 Gulf War.

Captain Penoyer’s staff assignments include serving as the Department of Homeland Security’s Chief of Contingency Planning, where he led the interagency teams revising the National Response Plan, Pandemic Influenza Response Plan, and Joint Field Office doctrine. He also served as the Coast Guard’s liaison to the U.S. Department of the Interior and Coast Guard representative on the National Response Team. At Coast Guard Headquarters, Captain Penoyer formulated doctrine for marine investigations, coordinated law enforcement policy, and developed the Coast Guard’s enterprise operational data system.

Captain Penoyer holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Maryland. He also holds a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College and is a graduate of the College of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island where he received the Director’s Award for Academic Excellence.

Captain Penoyer has been awarded five Meritorious Service Medals, four Coast Guard Commendation Medals, the Department of Transportation “9-11” Medal, and several campaign medals including the Southwest Asia Service Medal. He is married to Hildi Baker of Madison, Wisconsin, a nurse and University of Chicago graduate. Together they have two daughters, Scotia and Teslin.