CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State University will award nearly 4,600 degrees this Sunday, June 15, as part of OSU's 139th commencement service, set for 1 p.m. at Reser Stadium. The graduating class may well be OSU's largest ever, with 4,365 students receiving 4,586 degrees. The commencement speaker will be University of California-Berkley Director of Laboratory Animal Care Helen Diggs, an Oregon State graduate who has gone on to become a national leader in veterinary medicine and animal welfare. She will receive an honorary doctorate from the university.

Twenty-three other former Oregon State students will receive honorary bachelor's degrees. They are among the 42 students - all of Japanese ancestry - who were forced to leave the university during the early years of World War II after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which sent many of them to internment camps.

Many of these former students since have died. But at least five will return to campus and many others - both living and deceased - will be represented by family members during the OSU ceremony, where they will receive their long-overdue honorary degrees. Two OSU students - Joel Fischer and Andy Kiyuna - provided the impetus for recognizing the former students and helped turn it into a law signed by Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski. For more information on that process, see:

Honorees and their families will be available for interviews between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in the lobby of the LaSells Stewart Center. Media who need assistance may contact Larry Pribyl, OSU assistant director of broadcast news, at 541-230-4817.

For complete information on commencement, including story leads on multiple graduates with inspiring stories of success, please visit:

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Kent Kuo,