The UTMB School of Health Professions celebrated its winter commencement with 63 students graduating with degrees in clinical laboratory sciences, respiratory care and physician assistant studies.

UTMB Health President Dr. David L. Callender conferred the degrees at a ceremony in Levin Hall on Dec. 17. Elizabeth Protas, vice president and dean of the UTMB School of Health Professions, officiated at the graduation.

Dr. J. James Rohack, immediate past president of the American Medical Association and an honors graduate of the UTMB School of Medicine, delivered the commencement address. A senior staff cardiologist at Scott & White Clinic in Temple, Texas, Rohack has a lifelong commitment to advancing educational standards.

Michael Pirkle was the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus, and Holly West, assistant professor in the school’s physician assistant studies program, served as the grand marshal.

“These graduates represent an outstanding group of students, and I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of them,” said Protas. “They will fill a vital role in the nation’s changing health care landscape.”

Nine students received bachelor’s degrees in clinical laboratory sciences or respiratory care, and 54 earned master’s degrees in physician assistant studies.

Established in 1968, the UTMB School of Health Professions has educated more than 6,500 professionals who serve the nation’s health care workforce. The school helps meet the health care needs of communities by preparing students to enter such professions as physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant, clinical laboratory scientist and respiratory care.