Celebration and pageantry meet history at the University of Florida’s December commencement this weekend.
For the first time in a half-century, UF will hold a university-wide commencement ceremony in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The students of each college will enter the stadium led by their dean; the University Concert Choir and UF Wind Symphony will perform; and the guest address will be delivered by Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer with strong ties to UF and Gainesville who will receive a UF honorary degree
What’s more, for the first time ever, each college will also hold its own individual commencement celebration at which each student will be individually recognized.
“I can’t wait to join families and loved ones in saluting and celebrating our graduates at this historic commencement weekend,” said UF President Kent Fuchs. “I’m especially pleased that each of our graduates can experience two ceremonies – the big celebration in the Swamp and a smaller, more intimate ceremony with their college.”
More than 3,600 students from 45 states and 73 countries will earn their diplomas this weekend. UF will graduate nearly 300 first-generation college students, nearly 200 UF Online students and even a 65-year-old student. The celebration will begin Friday at 2 p.m. with the university’s ceremony for doctoral students and continue through Sunday as each of 14 colleges holds its recognition ceremony.
Stephen Stills belongs to the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and was ranked by Rolling Stone as among the 30 greatest guitarists of all time. He attended the local J.J. Finley Elementary School and Gainesville High School, and the Gator Marching Band practices in a room in the band building that is named in his honor. He will be awarded his honorary degree at Friday’s doctoral ceremony. .
In addition to Stills, the university wide commencement will feature a faculty speaker: The Dean of UF’s College of the Arts, Onye Ozuzu, a performing artist, educator, researcher and choreographer whose works have been performed worldwide.
The guest speaker for the doctoral ceremony, set for the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, is Dr. Thomasenia Lott Adams, professor and associate dean for research and faculty development in the UF College of Education.
The current weather forecast calls for strong thunderstorms Friday afternoon and evening. Although all graduation events on Friday are indoors, this weather could affect you as you walk to and from those venues. Closely monitor local weather reports and dress and prepare appropriately for conditions. Covered parking is available in the parking garage adjacent to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Saturday’s weather forecast calls for a slight chance of light rain. Graduating Gators will be provided with ponchos, but others attending should plan to bring a raincoat or poncho just in case as umbrellas and blankets are not permitted in the stadium. Also, a reminder that only clear bags are allowed in the stadium. Normal handbags and backpacks are not permitted. You can view the clear bag policy here.