431 Graduates Receive Diplomas in 131st Commencement

Published: Dec 19, 2011
There were 346 bachelor’s degree candidates and 85 master’s degree candidates.There were 346 bachelor’s degree candidates and 85 master’s degree candidates.
View photos of the December Commencement.

At the 131st Commencement of The University of Tampa on Dec. 17, Zachary Smith, a government and world affairs major, spoke of the centerpiece on campus that didn’t exist four years ago.

Smith, who gave the challenge to the graduating class, arrived on UT’s campus just as the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values was breaking ground. Four years later, he said the chapel will continue as a lasting memory just like the graduates’ time at UT.

“We have created an education which will stand as long as the chapel we were lucky enough to see rise over the fence of the construction site,” said Smith, a government and world affairs major from Sanatoga, PA. “The time we have spent here at UT will never be forgotten.”

Gina Campbell of George Town, Cayman Islands, introduced Smith. An accounting major, Campbell served as secretary for the Conduct Board, president of the Red Flag Campaign and vice president of networking for Beta Alpha Psi.

Kathleen Ochshorn, professor of English, spoke at the ceremony as this year’s recipient of the Louise Loy Hunter Award, which is given annually by its previous recipients to a UT professor for excellence in teaching and cumulative contributions in service and scholarship.

She reflected on those graduating as lieutenants, who she said she watched over the years running on Bayshore Boulevard at dawn with their heavy backpacks and are set to embark on a career in military service.

She reflected on her many students “whose distinguished work has dignified my days.”

Then she asked the graduates — 346 bachelor’s degree candidates and 85 master’s degree candidates — to use the technology that has dramatically changed the way they communicate to stay in touch with their UT family.

“Those same tools that have recently upended governments in the Middle East give you the capability to maintain contact with the community you built here at UT in rich ways not readily available even a few years ago,” Ochshorn said.

She asked them to draw on the humanities core of their education that emphasizes real human connectedness and mutual responsibility.

“The arts and literature, in particular, can teach us what the American writer Bernard Malamud called ‘what it means, human,’” she said. “Books, in whatever format they are read, change the world by helping us understand people, like and unlike ourselves.”

Ochshorn challenged the graduates to raise questions about justice, fight to right wrongs and search for human dignity among the poor. And to draw on their humanities core strength to perhaps “find new ways to change our world, or simply understand it.”

The Alumni Achievement Award was given to Brian Smith ’95, co-founder and managing partner of LCG Capital. The Service and Recognition Award was presented to Linda Devine, vice president of operations and planning at UT.

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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