Campus Life

Summer commencement set, changes planned for December, May

Engineering professor, student body president to address graduates

Task Force to review commencements, including significant changes planned for December and May

The University of Florida will confer 2,678 undergraduate and graduate degrees at its summer commencement ceremonies Friday and Saturday.

Greg Sawyer, a UF professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, will deliver the commencement address at both ceremonies: Friday’s ceremony for doctoral graduates and Saturday’s ceremony for master’s, bachelor’s and specialists graduates. In addition, graduates on Saturday will hear from UF Student Body President Ian Green.

UF President Kent Fuchs will preside over both ceremonies, and in keeping with recent tradition, all graduates will be individually recognized. However, the university has made several changes to commencement, including new marshal leadership, and significant additional changes are underway for the December and May ceremonies.

Marshals, who are primarily faculty members, lead processions, direct graduates and help coordinate the ceremonies. UF has produced revised, mandatory training materials for marshals.

Over the past three months, the university completed its review surrounding the aggressive handling of students by a marshal at one of the nine ceremonies at spring commencement. That marshal has lost the privilege of serving at future commencements and cannot serve in any voluntary faculty service role outside the classroom without prior approval.

Significant additional changes are being planned for the December and May commencements, including creation of a single universitywide ceremony at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with an invited speaker. Campus commencement will be followed by individual recognition ceremonies in the graduates’ colleges. The university will continue to hold a separate commencement ceremony in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for doctoral students in the spring, fall and summer.

President Fuchs has appointed a commencement task force that is charged with conducting a review of UF commencements and graduation recognition ceremonies.  The goal is to have ceremonies that celebrate and are meaningful for all graduates. In addition to reviewing changes implemented for this week’s commencement and the changes planned for December 2018 and May 2019, the task force also will recommend principles, values and goals to serve as a guide for all of UF’s numerous commencements and graduation recognition ceremonies.

The task force, co-chaired by Ian Green and Vice President for Student Affairs David Parrott, is providing input to changes on the main commencement ceremony as well as the college celebrations. Its members are:

Melissa Andrade
Will Atkins
Florida Bridgewater Alford
Sebastiano Cocco
Nicky Ennis
Antonio Farias
Scott Francis
Matt Gardener
Leslie Pendleton
Fennzia Guerrier
Brian Jose
Stan Kaye
Gillian Lord
Anthony Offerle
Hans van Oostrom
Akil Reynolds
Katheryn Russell-Brown
Keith Saint
Dakota Stanford
James Tyger
Katherine Vogel Anderson

“Commencement culminates our students’ journeys through UF and celebrates their exceptional academic achievements,” Fuchs said. “This task force has the mission of guiding our efforts to make this important occasion even more joyous and meaningful for graduates and for their loved ones.”

Students, faculty and staff who wish to provide input on commencements and college-based recognition ceremonies may do so at Suggestions will be shared with the members of the task force and with President Fuchs.

This summer’s doctoral commencement is set for 4 p.m. Friday and the master’s, specialist’s and bachelor’s ceremony for 10 a.m. Saturday, both in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

In his commencement remarks, Sawyer will discuss the extraordinary effort required to make discoveries and pass them on to new generations, drawing on his appreciation for Leonardo da Vinci, his engineering research and his own personal battle with cancer.

For his address, Green will encourage graduates to become courageous leaders who expand people’s perceptions of what is possible in life.

The addresses and ceremonies will be streamed and archived at

UF News Author
August 6, 2018