FEMA head returns home to speak at doctoral ceremony this week
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- W. Craig Fugate is coming back to where his high-profile career began.
Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency since 2009, is the commencement speaker for the Aug. 8 doctoral degree ceremony at the University of Florida. An Alachua native, he started as a volunteer firefighter, paramedic and lieutenant with Alachua County Fire Rescue.
Fugate won’t have a script or notes for his speech, his spokesman said, but he never uses them -- even when testifying before Congress, according to The New York Times. That probably doesn’t surprise those who have seen him stay calm under far more challenging circumstances.
As director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management in 2004, Fugate managed the largest federal disaster response in the state’s history, according to his official biography. Four hurricanes – Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne – hit in short succession. The following year, three more made landfall: Dennis, Katrina and Wilma. Florida then launched the biggest mutual aid response in its history to help other Gulf Coast states affected by Katrina.
Fugate’s impressive record prompted President Barack Obama to appoint him to run FEMA, where he has pushed for a “whole community” approach to emergency management, seeking collaboration among all levels of government and with external partners, including the private sector and nonprofits.
UF’s doctoral degree ceremony begins at 4 p.m. in the O’Connell Center. A ceremony for graduates with bachelor’s, master’s or specialist degrees will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 9 in the O’Connell Center. The College of Pharmacy will confer degrees at 10 a.m. Aug. 9 in the HPNP Auditorium.
About 1,020 students are expected to participate in all ceremonies. A total of 967 undergraduates, 782 master’s or specialist and 455 doctoral degree candidates have applied to graduate.
Outstanding four-year scholars are Sheridan Caldwell, Lake Mary; William Giroux, Bradenton; James Longville, Merritt Island; Amy Smith, Seminole; and Arthriya Suksuwan, Muang Khonkaen, Thailand.
Outstanding two-year scholars are Jonathan Anderson, Gainesville; Nicole Hewitt, Brooksville; and Samantha Capaldo, Palm City. Outstanding student leaders are Chelsea Elizabeth Stewart, Sewickley, Pa.; and David Levin, Longwood.
Retired Army Col. Martin Fackler, also retired from UF’s pathology department, will receive a Distinguished Achievement Award during the Aug. 9 ceremony. Fackler is considered one of the world’s leading ballistics experts. He was a battlefield surgeon in Vietnam and went on to set up the Wound Ballistics Laboratory for the Army’s Medical Training Center at the Letterman Institute.
Graduates, friends and family are encouraged to follow the University of Florida on Twitter and Instagram (@UFlorida) and to include #UFGrad in their posts before, during and after commencement. They can follow the conversation around #UFGrad without a Twitter account. www.socialmedia.ufl.edu/UFGrad/.
For more information about commencement, visit www.registrar.ufl.edu/commencement/
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