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UT Graduates Celebrate Success

Published: May 14, 2008


The spring Commencement continued its run of record-setting numbers, nearing the 1,000 mark. This year, 981 students were eligible to walk in the ceremony, which was held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, at the St. Pete Times Forum. A total of 799 are expected graduate with bachelor’s degrees, and 195 will receive graduate degrees.

This year’s speaker was Rob Blagojevich, graduate of the class of 1977. Blagojevich is a private investor in his company, Blagojevich Properties, based in Nashville, TN. He owns and operates seven properties in four states, including an office park in Florida. He has had more than $40 million in transaction activity in six years.

Student speakers were Joshua Murphy, of Callahan, FL, and Adam L. Kemp, of Mexico Beach, FL. Murphy served as Student Government vice president, was vice president for Student Productions, and served as chaplain for his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. Kemp was on the dean’s list and was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the business honor society. He served twice as a delegate for the Model United Nations at Harvard University and was the recipient of the Davis Productivity Award from the Florida Department of Health.

At the ceremony, UT presented the Honorable David A. Straz Jr. and his wife, Catherine Lowry Straz with the 2008 Champion of Higher Independent Education in Florida (C.H.I.E.F.) Award. David is a past chairman of UT’s Board of Trustees and has been a member since 1996. He and his wife have been generous supporters of the University and one of its newest residence halls bears his name.

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 2007 Esse Quam Videri Award was awarded to Ron Govin, class of 1962. Govin is the chief executive officer of MarkMaster Inc. of Temple Terrace, FL, which was established as a marking products manufacturer in 1933 by his parents, Armand and Virginia Govin. Today it offers its products to more than 3,000 customers throughout the United States. The business was awarded the 2001 Small Business of the Year award from the Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce and was also awarded the Florida Family Business of the Year Award in 2004.

Sheri Huelster, class of 2005 received the Young Alumni Award. She holds the title of vice president of communications for Tampa Alpha, UT’s local alumni chapter, and has chaired the annual Brian Claar Golf Classic for the last two years. She will take on the role of chapter president in June, and has been a member of the UT National Alumni Association Board of Directors since 2005, where she serves on the events committee.

For more information on UT’s commencement, contact Dr. Robert Ruday, dean of students, at (813) 253-6204.