USF Commencement: 50th Anniversary of 1st Grads, Honor for Baker

Dec 13, 2013

Members of the first graduating class at USF march at their ceremony, held in a campus parking lot, on Dec. 22, 1963.
Credit USF file

Among the highlights of the University of South Florida's Fall 2013 commencement ceremonies this weekend are an honor for former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and the 50th anniversary reunion of members of USF's first graduating class.

In addition, more than 4,200 degrees will be awarded to current students at ceremonies for the three campuses of the USF System.

When USF opened to students in 1960, some of the first 2,000 enrollees already had college credits, enabling them to graduate in about three years.

The 325 members of the first half of the charter graduating class (USF categorizes April 1964 graduates as the second half) took part in ceremonies Dec. 22, 1963, in a parking lot on the relatively new USF campus, which only had four buildings at that time. About 75 percent of that first graduating class were Education majors.

More than two dozen members of that initial graduating class will get together for a reunion on the Tampa campus Friday afternoon and then take part in the 1:30 p.m. ceremony Saturday at the USF Sun Dome.

The USF Alumni Association is also launching The Golden Guard Society, which will induct the members of each class as they reach their 50th anniversary of graduating.

USF Tampa

USF Tampa is holding three separate ceremonies in the USF Sun Dome Saturday, with more than 2,400 students expected to take part. Lianet Vazquez, who is picking up degrees in Biology and Political Science, will also receive the Outstanding Graduate award.

· The 9 a.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduates from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Behavioral and Community Sciences. More than 1,000 graduates are anticipated to attend. Marlene Johnson, the executive director and chief executive officer of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, will receive the President’s Global Leadership Award.

· The 1:30 p.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduates from the College of Business, Education, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, The Arts and Undergraduate Studies. More than 800 graduates are anticipated to attend. Charter class member David Jordan will speak.

· The 6 p.m. ceremony will recognize graduate students from all colleges. More than 500 graduates are anticipated to attend. Stanford University Professor Richard Zare, a renowned scientist, educator and civic scholar will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science.

The Tampa ceremonies will be streamed live on the internet.

USF Saint Petersburg

More than 400 students will receive degrees from USF St. Petersburg; about 250 of them are expected to participate in the ceremony, which takes place Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Peterburg.

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker will receive the Chancellor's Award for Civic Leadership. Charles Matthew Hamm, who's receiving a degree in the dual majors of Accounting and Finance, will be given the Outstanding Graduate Award.

USF Sarasota-Manatee 

About 200 seniors have applied to graduate from USF Sarasota-Manatee; over 100 are expected to attend the ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.

Elementary Education major Miriam Fleck will receive the Golden Bull Service and Outstanding Leadership Award, Psychology major J.D. Lotz will receive the Outstanding Graduate Award and Dr. Elaine Augustine from the College of Arts and Sciences and Dr. Tricia Hunsader from the College of Education were both named Outstanding Professors.