Five will earn doctor of nursing practice degrees

State University’s May Commencement ceremony will be a little different this year. The 2014 graduation ceremony will see the first graduates of the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) cross the stage to receive diplomas. The five doctoral students will have the honor of receiving the first doctorates ever granted by Murray State University in the nearly 92 years since the school’s founding. These first graduates were able to take all coursework online since they were already master’s-prepared and are advanced-practice nurses.

A proposal to create a doctor of nursing practice in the school of nursing was approved by the MSU board of regents in September 2010. The DNP program was designed to move B.S.N.-prepared registered nurses into advanced practice, benefiting health care not only in Kentucky, but also in the surrounding region and the nation.

The DNP program offers a distinct advantage to nursing student graduates. Transitioning from bachelor’s or master’s degrees to doctoral-level education has opened up avenues of employment for nurses, not only in the health care field, but also in the area of nursing faculty shortages.

The capstone projects completed by the students ranged from improving the anesthesia practice with obstetrical patients to decrease the incidence of nausea and hypotension, to improving the blood sugar readings of diabetic patients with individual follow-up and teaching, to changing the protocol for releasing prisoners in order to improve their health care and reduce the incidence of returning to jail.

“The impact that each graduate has already had on the community in which they practice is very impressive,” said Dr. Marcie Hobbs, dean of the MSU school of nursing. “The faculty have worked diligently to assist them in their educational endeavors while also improving the health care of the region.”

Five individuals will receive the DNP from Murray State University. The graduates are Shondell V. Hickson from Clarksville, Tenn.; Roy Alan Morris from West Point, Ky.; Renea Nagel-Terrell from Union City, Tenn.; Cheryl DeNiece Parker from Louisville, Ky.; and Lorrie Springer from Madisonville, Ky.

Three of the graduates are certified nurse anesthetists, one is a family nurse practitioner who owns her practice, and one is a clinical nurse specialist who teaches at Austin Peay State University.

This spring’s graduation event will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, in the CFSB Center at 10 a.m. It will begin with the Presentation of Colors by the Murray State Army ROTC Color Guard. The Processional will feature “Liberty Fanfare” and the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance.”

The Mace Bearer is Dr. David Ferguson, the Max Carman Professor and Distinguished Mentor, and a professor in the Hutson School of Agriculture.

Samuel Pellock and Carli Whittington, the Outstanding Spring Graduates, will lead in candidates for degrees and deliver the valedictions.

MSU President Thomas I. Miller will confer the degrees.

Music for Commencement will be provided by the MSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dennis L. Johnson of MSU’s department of music. Jacob Waid, music education graduate student, will lead the Alma Mater.

Faculty Marshals are Dwayne Driskill, Michael Kemp, Reika Ebert, Robert Lyons, David Fender and Gill Welsch.

The faculty will be led in by the recipients of The Regents Teaching Awards for Excellence — James McCoy, Cynthia Barnett, Robert Pilgrim, Michael D’Ambrosio, Ajay Das, Rudy Ottway, Daniel Hepworth and Alyx Shultz.

They will be joined by Presidential Research Fellow Terry Derting, Distinguished Researcher Tan Zhang, University Emerging Scholars Bellarmine Ezumah and Gary Morris, Faculty Adviser of the Year David Gibson and Faculty Distinguished Service awardee Jack Rose.

Jeremiah Johnson, student regent and president of the Student Government Association, will deliver the Commencement Address.

Residential College Investiture and the Awarding of Degrees follow the address.

Ample guest parking is available in the Stewart Stadium parking lot, east of the CFSB Center, off of Hwy. 641. Shuttles are available to transport guests from the parking lot to the front doors of the CFSB Center beginning at 8 a.m. They will be available until 1:30 p.m. to transport guests from the CFSB Center back to the parking lot.

The top two rows of chair seating in the arena is reserved for individuals with limited mobility, who may have two additional guests sit with them. Special seating areas will also be located on each side of the arena. Ushers will be available to assist with seating.

Guests with disabilities who require special assistance should note that the parking lot located off of Gilbert Graves Drive is available for a drop-off zone. A handicapped parking tag or special permission will be required to park in that location.

Special requests regarding disabilities may be directed to the office of institutional diversity, equity and access at 270.809.3155, or the CFSB Center at 270.809.5577 or TDD 270.809.3361.

The Commencement event will be streamed online at

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