Browser warning

Comet Seeker to Highlight Spring Commencement

Published: April 26, 2004

David H. Levy, one of America’s best-known astronomers and science writers, will receive an honorary doctorate of science at The University of Tampa’s spring 2004 Commencement. The ceremony will be at the Tampa Convention Center on Saturday, May 8, at 1 p.m.


One of the most successful comet finders in history, Levy has discovered 21 comets, eight of them using his own backyard telescope. With Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker, he discovered Shoemaker-Levy 9, the comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994, producing some of the most spectacular cosmic explosions ever witnessed by human eyes.


Levy has authored or edited 31 books, and won an Emmy in 1998 as part of the writing team for the Discovery Channel documentary Three Minutes to Impact. As science editor for Parade magazine, he reaches more than 78 million readers. He has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, the National Geographic special Asteroids: Deadly Impact, and ABC's World News Tonight, on which he and the Shoemakers were named “Persons of the Week” for July 22, 1994. The honorary doctorate is considered the University’s highest honor.


Also at Commencement, one of UT's most ardent and long-time supporters, Richard Swirbul ’60, will be awarded The University of Tampa Medal for service to the University community.


A native of Duquesne, Pennsylvania, Swirbul graduated from UT with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He then joined the Merchant's Association of Florida, where he spent his 47-year career in various capacities leading to president and chief executive officer. Swirbul served as president of the Kiwanis Club of Midtown Tampa, and was president of the Hillsborough County Unit of the American Cancer Society. He served as a member of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100 and the Gasparilla Pirate Fest board, and was a board member of the Rotary Club of Tampa and the Leadership Tampa Alumni Association.  


Swirbul’s UT service included alumni association president. He was an officer in the Sword and Shield and Quarterback clubs, and remains an active member of the Tampa Alpha Alumni chapter. He was a member of UT's Board of Trustees, and continues to be a University friend and fundraiser.


More than 700 degrees will be awarded at the ceremony.  Four recipients—April Lynne Gillespie of Tampa, Rachel Luria of New Jersey, Trisha Lynn Myerscough of Clearwater and Gwennae Armelle Wilson of France—will be designated summa cum laude, the most to date in a single ceremony.  The designation recognizes a perfect 4.0 grade point average.  


Another 29 will receive magna cum laude recognition (GPA 3.75 or higher, but below 4.0), and 78 will be recognized cum laude (GPA 3.5 or higher, but below 3.75).


The first graduates of the Master of Science in Technology and Innovation Management degree will mark another milestone in the University’s growth. The pioneer “MS-TIM” program began at UT two years ago.


For more information, contact the Office of Public Information at