Lifelong education advocate speaking at Auburn University’s summer graduation

Published: July 31, 2017
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Education advocate Beth Thorne Stukes, who has helped raise more than $1 billion for Auburn as part of Because This is Auburn – A Campaign for Auburn University, will be the guest speaker at Auburn’s summer graduation ceremonies Saturday, Aug. 5, in Auburn Arena. Her most recent role as co-chair for the fundraising campaign caps a life of service to education. Approximately 1,160 new graduates will receive degrees.

Stukes will speak at a 10 a.m. ceremony for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction; the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering; the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; the College of Liberal Arts; the College of Sciences and Mathematics; and University College. She will speak at a 2 p.m. ceremony for the College of Agriculture; the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business; the College of Education; the College of Human Sciences; and the School of Nursing.

The ceremonies will be streamed online at

Stukes served as a teacher in the Walker County school system. Following her retirement, she continued to advocate for education and established herself as a pillar in her local community and beyond. She is a member of the executive committee of Auburn’s Women’s Philanthropy Board in the College of Human Sciences, chair of the Walker Area Community Foundation, vice chair of the Samford University Board of Trustees and a director of Drummond Company.

She has previously served her community by working with parks and recreation, the humane society and literary council, among other organizations, and has received awards for her service. She holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is married to former basketball coach Rick Stukes and has a son, Brent Uptain, a daughter-in-law, Karyn Emison Uptain, and a dog, Morgan.

Auburn will award 103 doctoral degrees, 295 master’s degrees, 18 educational specialist degrees and 744 bachelor’s degrees. The bachelor’s degrees by college or school are: Raymond J. Harbert College of Business, 163; College of Liberal Arts, 140; Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, 98; College of Human Sciences, 91; School of Nursing, 73; College of Education, 57; College of Sciences and Mathematics, 37; College of Architecture, Design and Construction, 34; College of Agriculture, 30; University College, 12; School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, 8; and College of Veterinary Medicine, one.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 29,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.