USF System Commencement Exercises Dec. 13 - 15

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 8, 2008) – Commencement exercises at the University of South Florida, its two regional campuses and USF St. Petersburg will honor graduates and leading Tampa Bay residents between Dec. 13 and 15.  


Prominent Tampa Bay community leaders, philanthropists and long-time supporters of USF, Victor Leavengood and his wife, Lee Leavengood will be recognized with the President’s Distinguished Citizen Award at the Tampa ceremonies.  At USF Polytechnic in Lakeland USF Trustee and immediate past chair of the USF Polytechnic Campus Board Sherrill Tomasino will receive the Distinguished Service Award and Tom Patton, executive director, Central Florida Development Council, will be the guest speaker.  Outgoing Republican member of the Florida State Senate from District 23, Lisa Carlton, will be presented with USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Distinguished Citizen Award.  The Regional Chancellor’s Award for Civic Leadership will be given to retired Progress Energy Chairman (Chairman Emeritus) Andrew H. Hines, Jr. at USF St. Petersburg’s commencement where former Florida Gov. Bob Martinez will serve as guest speaker and observe his granddaughter graduate.


A combined total of graduates for the four locations is 3,712 compared with 3,656 last fall and the record graduating class of 4,900 last spring.  University of South Florida System President Judy Genshaft will preside over all the graduation ceremonies. 


Stuart Silverman, dean of the Honors College, continues his tradition serving as the Tampa ceremony announcer, a responsibility he first took on in 1988.  By his estimate, he has announced “over 70,000 names.”  While graduation is old hat to Silverman, USF Tampa’s commencement will feature a number of firsts:


•  This is the first class of the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists.  100% of the charter class of CRNA’s have secured employment upon graduation.  Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists will safely administer anesthesia to over 30 million patients in the United States each year.


•  The university has just approved a MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in creative writing, fiction and the first two graduates are participating in the 6 p.m. ceremony. They are husband and wife! Ryan Zimmerman and Shannon Zimmerman.


•  This is also the first ceremony where USF will recognize the new College of Behavioral and Community Sciences.


System-wide, graduates are from 92 nations and 29 states.  The youngest is 20-year-old Elizabeth Anderson who will receive her B.S. in nursing.  There will be 36 summa cum laude graduates, 146 magna cum laude, and 198 cum laude.  Student Government Chief Justice Kevin Williams, biomedical sciences from the College of Arts and Sciences Tampa (named the Outstanding Senior by the USF Alumni Association) and Bright Futures Scholar Jessica Morgan, B.A. in psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences from USF St. Petersburg (named Outstanding Graduate) will be honored at their respective graduation ceremonies.


A posthumous outstanding senior award will be presented in the name of Alejandro Solis who would have graduated with a bachelor of science in finance and a bachelor’s degree in management from the College of Business from USF Polytechnic. 


King O’ Neal Scholar candidates, each having earned a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 from USF Tampa are Zak Devin Boggs, B.S., Biomedical Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Brian Joseph Marks, B.S., Finance, College of Business, and Paul Christopher Sinclair, B.A., Music Studies, College of Visual and Performing Arts; those from USF St. Petersburg are Clarisse Barbier, B.A., Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, and Jennifer Dion Fox, B.A., English, Literature, College of Arts and Sciences.


·         The largest ceremonies take place in Tampa Dec. 13 at the USF Sun Dome in three separate ceremonies at 9 a.m., 1:30 and 6 p.m.:


The 9 a.m. ceremony will recognize an anticipated 800 undergraduates from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, and Behavioral and Community Sciences.  In excess of 500 graduates are estimated to attend the 1:30 p.m. ceremony which will recognize undergraduates from the Colleges of Business, Education, Engineering, Nursing, Undergraduate Studies and Visual and Performing Arts.  And the 6 p.m. ceremony will recognize graduate students from all colleges including doctoral, education specialist, master of fine arts and master’s degrees with over 550 graduates.


·         USF St. Petersburg holds its ceremony Sunday, Dec. 14, at 6 p.m. in the Mahaffey Theatre.  The expected turnout is 225 graduates with 1,900 guests.  (Media contact: Melanie Marquez, (727) 553-4456)


The two regional campus commencement ceremonies are at the following times and locations:


·         USF Sarasota-Manatee

Sunday, Dec. 14, 2 p.m.

Manatee Convention Center

Expected turnout: 180 graduates and 2,200 guests.

(Contact: Crystal Rothaar (941) 359-4572)


·         USF Polytechnic

Monday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m.

Lakeland Center, Youkey Theatre

Expected turnout: 70 graduates and 900 guests.

(Contact: David Steele (863) 667-7055)


Up-to-date information is available from the commencement hotline: (813) 974-9406 or (813) 974-1816.


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

– USF –