Auburn University awarding 1,590 degrees in Dec. 12 ceremonies featuring engineering professional

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Auburn University will award 1,590 academic degrees Saturday, Dec. 12, in Auburn Arena during two fall graduation ceremonies featuring addresses by engineering professional Melissa Herkt, a 2015 recipient of the Auburn Alumni Association's Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 10 a.m. ceremony will include the colleges and schools of Engineering; Liberal Arts; Nursing; Sciences and Mathematics; and University College, formerly Interdisciplinary Studies. The 2 p.m. ceremony will be held for the colleges and schools of Agriculture; Architecture, Design and Construction; Business; Education; Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; and Human Sciences.

The ceremonies can be viewed live through the university's website at

Herkt, a self-employed engineering consultant from Round Rock, Texas, had held executive positions with engineering firms around the globe. The Gadsden, Alabama, native earned a degree in civil engineering from Auburn in 1977 and was the first female co-op student to work for Alabama Power. Following graduation, she was hired by Exxon, where she became the first female engineer posted overseas. In that post, she was a construction engineer on a $30 million project in Denmark. She was later appointed the first female construction manager for Exxon, where she led a $300 million refinery expansion in France and a $400 million project in the UK and Denmark.

She served as president of Process Systems and Solutions - Americas, a division of Emerson Process Management, one of the largest and most respected engineering companies in the world. Herkt was responsible for a half-dozen vital industries approaching $900 million in annual revenue.

Through the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, she is actively involved with engineering student outreach and has traveled with student teams to Bolivia twice.

Of the degrees Auburn will award, 1,155 are bachelor's degrees, 336 are master's degrees, 85 are doctorates and 14 are education specialist degrees. The Raymond J. Harbert College of Business will award the most bachelor's degrees with 255, followed by the College of Liberal Arts with 248. The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering will present 168 degrees; College of Education, 126; College of Sciences and Mathematics, 113; College of Human Sciences, 79; College of Architecture, Design and Construction, 66; College of Agriculture, 54; University College, 28; School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, 15; and School of Nursing, three.

Auburn University has awarded more than 290,000 degrees since its founding as East Alabama Male College in 1856.

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 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.