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UT commencement breaks 800 mark; top grad from St. Petersburg

Published: May 11, 2006
The largest Commencement ceremony in University of Tampa history took center stage at the St. Pete Times Forum last Saturday at 10 a.m. More than 800 new graduates walked for their diplomas, waving to an estimated 3,000 friends and family and celebrating the day.

The official figures included more than 700 recipients of undergraduate degrees and more than 100 graduate degree recipients. The numbers count May and anticipated August graduates, with the former totaling nearly 700.

Gianni Antonio LoVario, of St. Petersburg, graduated at the head of the class with a perfect 4.0 GPA. The computer information systems major also was one of 60 Honors Program graduates. While LoVario, a graduate of St. Petersburg High School, was the only summa cum laude candidate, 43 graduated magna cum laude (GPA 3.75 or higher, but less than 4.0), and 72 exited with cum laude recognition (GPA 3.5 or higher, but less than 3.75).

The largest UT graduation ceremony to date also will be its earliest. The 10 a.m. start was designed for families to enjoy more time with their graduates after the ceremony. In previous years, 1 p.m. was the standard.

The speaker was Craig C. Sturken, a 1966 graduate of UT and recipient of the 2006 Alumni Achievement Award. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from UT, and is chairman, president and CEO of Spartan Stores, the largest grocery wholesaler in Michigan and 10th-largest grocery wholesaler in the nation.