President Emeritus Dr. Robert Furgason Announced as Fall 2018 Commencement Speaker

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – From transforming the Island University from a modest upper-level university to a major, comprehensive four-year institution, to overseeing the reconstruction of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s iconic beach, to helping secure a $46 million donation for the creation of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Dr. Robert R. Furgason has undoubtedly had a hefty hand in shaping the University into what it is today. Coming to Corpus Christi in 1990 as the first permanent University President of what was then Corpus Christi State University, Furgason will once again take part in a ceremony he presided over more than two dozen times – a commencement ceremony – though this time, he’ll be delivering the keynote speech.

Furgason will address 833 Islander graduates from all five colleges and the newly formed University College during two ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 15, at the American Bank Center, located in downtown Corpus Christi. This is the University’s largest fall commencement ceremony to date.

“It’s been a while since I have been a part of commencement, and over the years, the audience has changed,” Furgason reflected. “Nowadays, young people communicate in 140 characters or less, or by texting on their cell phones, which often doesn’t result in meaningful connections. During my address, I hope to encourage them to alter their communication style to lead to real discourse. I have a lot of faith in our young people – I know they can do it.”

Over the 14-year period of Furgason’s presidency, approximately $250 million of capital improvements were made to campus including the first on-campus housing, the establishment of the Early Childhood Development Center, and the construction of the Performing Arts Center. He also oversaw the acquisition of the Art Museum of South Texas, and the Antonio E. Garcia Arts & Education Center, effectively expanding the University’s presence into Corpus Christi’s downtown and west side. Just last week, the Island University named its engineering building the Robert R. Furgason Engineering Building in honor of Furgason’s long career as a dedicated engineering professor, his numerous prestigious professional accolades, and his significant contributions as an academic administrator.

“When I came to Corpus Christi, I sensed the community wanted a ‘real’ University,” said Furgason. “So, I rallied the movers and shakers in town to see a new vision of what this University could be. Now, with President Kelly Quintanilla’s ability to connect with the community, that vision of becoming an even more well-known University is very much a reality.”

International engineering accreditation expert, consultant, president emeritus of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and first director of the Harte Research Institute are just some of the positions Furgason held over the years. Furgason was also recognized as “Newsmaker of the Decade” by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in 2000, is currently on the Board of Trustees of the Driscoll Children’s Hospital and has served on the Boards of the following: Coastal Bend Community Foundation, Corpus Christi Symphony, Texas State Aquarium, and Art Museum of South Texas.

Furgason is a graduate of the University of Idaho and obtained his doctoral degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University. In 2006, the University of Idaho conferred an honorary Doctor of Administrative Science to Furgason in recognition of his contributions to higher education.

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s fall 2018 commencement ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15:

10 a.m.:

  • College of Business
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • College of Nursing and Health Sciences

2 p.m.:

  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Science and Engineering
  • University College

To learn more about the ceremonies or to watch a live stream the day of the event, visit Make it a social occasion by sharing your graduation celebration photos or tweets by using #IslanderForever and #IslanderImpact.