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Oklahoma State University

Three to receive honorary degrees at OSU Commencement

Thu, December 03, 2015

Oklahoma State University will award honorary doctorates to researcher John Niblack, art studio director Bill Goldston and former NFL running back Walt Garrison during two undergraduate commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 12, at Gallagher-Iba Arena.  

“The careers of this year’s honorees are especially representative of the diverse fields of study and options offered at OSU, and their lives reflect the service to others that we prize so much,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “We are proud to recognize them with honorary degrees that represent the highest honor we can bestow.”   

John Niblack has dedicated his life to new discoveries in the research lab and to helping students at OSU pursue similar interests by offering several annual scholarships that allow them to engage in actual research as undergraduates. Niblack, who was given a similar opportunity by a professor when he attended OSU, went on to serve as president of global research and development at Pfizer Inc., managing 12,000 researchers and an annual budget of more than $5 billion. He retired in 2002 after 35 years with Pfizer and continues to serve as a consultant and a board member for companies involved in the industry. He is also active on the boards of several non-profit institutions and museums. Niblack will receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters and is the commencement speaker during the morning ceremony on Saturday.


Bill Goldston began breathing new life into Universal Limited Art Editions soon after he arrived at the fine art print studio in 1969 to assist in a printmaking project. Goldston, who received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from OSU in 1963, encouraged the studio’s owners to venture into new areas of printmaking that attracted new artists and fostered expansion. By 1976, he took charge of the studio, where he is known for cultivating experimentation and innovation while maintaining a sense of family. Only one artist is scheduled to visit and work at the studio on any given day.  A traditional lunch is served to allow the artist, printmakers, staff, interns and special guests to gather around the table and interact in a relaxed setting.  Goldston will receive an honorary doctorate of fine arts degree and speak to graduates during the afternoon ceremony on Saturday.

A scholarship to OSU allowed Walt Garrison to quit his midnight work shift in Texas and major in animal husbandry in 1962.  His skill as a running back on the football field and as an excellent student in the classroom made him a role model. Drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1966, he helped lead the team to a Super Bowl Championship and was also named to  two NFL pro bowl teams. Garrison has been inducted into the Oklahoma State Hall of Honor, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, as well as sports halls of fame in both Oklahoma and Texas. He has used his down home personality and celebrity status to help numerous charities in  the Dallas-Ft. Worth area  and throughout the world. Garrison will receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters during the afternoon graduation ceremony on Saturday.

The first undergraduate ceremony will start at 10:30 a.m. in Gallagher-Iba Arena and feature students from the College of Human Sciences, College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, and the Spears School of Business. The second ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. for students from the College of Education, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, and the College of Arts and Sciences.  The graduate commencement ceremony is set for Friday, Dec. 11, starting at 7 p.m.

The OSU Pipe Band will lead processionals into Gallagher-Iba Arena, where candidates will be seated by college. Each will be announced individually, photographed and presented an OSU Commencement print while crossing the stage. University approved caps and gowns are required.

For more information, go to The ceremony may be viewed live online at