UT Commencement Honors More Than 1,000 Graduates

Published: May 6, 2009
The University of Tampa’s Class of 2009 will be the first UT class to break 1,000 with 1,007 graduates when the seniors cross the stage at spring commencement on Saturday, May 9, at 10 a.m. in the St. Pete Times Forum. Of that number, which includes August graduates, 818 are bachelor’s degree candidates and 189 are graduate degree candidates. The ceremony is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, will give the commencement address. She will also receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters. Known as Africa’s “Iron Lady,” Sirleaf is a leading promoter of peace, justice and democratic rule, and in 2007 was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was the first woman elected president of an African nation and, in 2008, Forbes magazine named her the 66th most powerful woman in the world.

Jabari Bennett, of Stone Mountain, Ga., will be the student speaker at commencement. A government and world affairs major, Bennett has sat on the Student Government Executive Board, participated in the ELITE (Educating Leaders in Today’s Environment) Leadership Program and the Diversity Fellowship, and worked for U.S. Congressman Hank Johnson. This fall he was crowned Homecoming King.

At the ceremony, UT will present the Bailey Family Foundation with the 2009 Champion of Higher Independent Education in Florida (C.H.I.E.F.) Award. Founded in 1997 by Ron K. Bailey, a former UT trustee and father of current trustee Kyle Bailey, the foundation provides more than $2 million a year in scholarships to 400 high school seniors and college students. In 2002, the Bailey Family Foundation gave $2 million to the University to construct the R.K. Bailey Art Studios, which houses the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery. The C.H.I.E.F. award is the highest honor presented by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida Council of Presidents, the leadership of Florida independent higher education. The C.H.I.E.F. Award is bestowed only upon distinguished individuals who represent the greatest support of independent higher education in Florida.

The 2009 Esse Quam Videri Award, the highest award given by the National Alumni Association to a graduate of UT, will be awarded to Ida Felicione Coe, class of 1958. Coe has volunteered countless hours of her time to UT in the last 50 years. She has served as secretary, treasurer, vice president and president for the Tampa Alpha board, UT’s local alumni chapter. She is also vice president of homecoming for UT’s National Alumni Association Board of Directors and is a founding member of the decade of the ‘50s reunions committee.

Brooke May, class of 2003, will receive the Young Alumni Award. Soon after graduating, May became an active member of the UT Board of Counselors, who serve as ambassadors for the University by organizing social events to raise awareness and funds for UT. May most recently served as chair of the Board of Counselors in 2007-08 and as chair of the membership committee in 2008-09. During her tenure as the chair of the Counselors, the group raised a record amount of money to support the Annual Fund and UT athletics.

For more information on commencement, contact the Office of the Associate Provost and Dean of Academic Services at (813) 257-6130.

Commencement by the Numbers:
Total graduates = 1,007

Total bachelor’s degree candidates = 818

Summa cum laude = 1

Magna cum laude = 48

Cum laude = 83

Honors program grads: 61

Total master’s candidates = 189

Honors = 5

Highest honors = 2

Countries = 39

Graduates from Florida = 498

Top 3 most popular undergraduate majors = Nursing, management and criminology

MBAs = 98