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USF System Spring Commencement Complete With the Conferring of Over 6,500 Degrees

USF System President Judy Genshaft presided over ceremonies held May 6-9.


TAMPA, Fla. (May 10, 2016) – The University of South Florida System conferred more than 6,500 degrees during the spring commencement ceremonies held May 6-9. More than 4,700 graduates participated.

USF System President Judy Genshaft presided over six ceremonies at the USF Sun Dome, as well as ceremonies at USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee, which represented the university’s 108th commencement convocation.

Approximately 6,545 degrees were awarded, including 5,803 from USF, 480 from USF St. Petersburg and 262 from USF Sarasota-Manatee. USF conferred 4,366 bachelor’s degrees, 1,235 master’s degrees, 198 doctoral degrees and four specialist degrees.

Dr. Ernest Boger, a Tampa native who was USF’s first black graduate in 1965, received the President’s Fellow Medallion. Boger’s work within the hospitality and tourism industry is highly decorated, including recognition by the American Hotel & Lodging Association as Certified Hotel Administrator Emeritus. The honor is the pinnacle of recognition for lifetime hotel industry professionalism and is held by less than 25 individuals worldwide. Boger is the only African American to hold the distinction. Boger currently works as the chairman and an associate professor in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Spring 2016’s youngest graduate is Ahmed Mohamed, 18, earned his bachelor’s degrees in biomedical sciences and political science. Mohamed is one of 27 USF System King O’Neal recipients, an honor presented to undergraduates with a 4.0 GPA. Mohamed will be the first student to pursue MD and JD degrees in a specially designed program offered by the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Stetson University College of Law.

First-generation college student Vanisaben Patel received the USF Alumni Association’s Outstanding Graduate Award. Patel graduated with a double major in biomedical sciences and public health, as well as a minor in leadership studies. A member of the Honors College, Patel’s time at USF included lung cancer research at Shriner’s Hospital, mentoring for the Intercultural Student Leadership and receiving the Peer Leader award from the Department of Chemistry. Patel plans to attend medical school.

Four distinguished individuals received honorary doctorates from USF, including:

Dr. James Martinez, the recent owner of Fletcher Medical Center Pharmacy, received an honorary doctorate of pharmacy. A registered pharmacist for 50 years, Martinez has provided pharmaceutical care to USF Athletics and USF Sports Medicine for many years, and was an early advocate for a College of Pharmacy at USF. Further evidence of his commitment to the university is demonstrated by the establishment of the first endowed scholarship at the USF College of Pharmacy, the James and Sylvia Martinez Endowed Scholarship.

John Ramil, president and chief executive officer of TECO Energy, received an honorary doctorate of engineering. Ramil is the longest-tenured member of USF’s Board of Trustees and serves on multiple boards of directors, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and Moffitt Cancer Center.

Jamie Merisotis, received an honorary doctorate of education. Merisotis is president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. and a driving force for success in higher education. When USF formed a Student Success Task Force and launched a campus-wide initiative, the accelerated path to degree completion aligned with and supported Lumina Foundation’s goal to raise degree attainment to 60 percent by 2025. In recent years, USF’s graduation rate has risen to record levels while successfully closing the achievement gap and ensuring students succeed at the same rate regardless of race, ethnicity or income.

Samuel Philander, the Knox-Taylor professor of geosciences at Princeton University, received an honorary doctorate of marine science. Recognized as an influential and creative scientist, Philander’s research focuses ocean and atmosphere, climate change and global warming. Philander is a regular contributor to the USF College of Marine Science through seminars and interactions with graduate and post-doctoral students.

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