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Florida State University

More than 5,600 to graduate from Florida State

More than 5,600 Florida State University students will graduate this spring, and at least 3,800 of them will participate in Florida State's three commencement ceremonies, which are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 1, and 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2, at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. Florida State President T.K. Wetherell will preside.

Retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner will speak at the Friday evening and Saturday morning commencement ceremonies. Friday's ceremony is for graduates of the colleges of Arts and Sciences; Criminology and Criminal Justice; Human Sciences; and Medicine. The graduates of the colleges of Communication; Engineering; Motion Picture, Television and Recording Arts; Social Sciences; and Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance will attend the Saturday morning ceremony.

Friday's ceremony will also include the announcement of Florida State's 2009-2010 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, the highest honor conferred by the faculty on one of its own. This year's recipient is Richard K. Wagner, Alfred Binet Professor and Distinguished Professor of Psychology.

The guest speaker for the Saturday afternoon ceremony will be Circuit Judge Michael F. Andrews, of Florida's Sixth Judicial Circuit. He will address graduates from the colleges of Business; Education; Information; Music; Nursing; and Social Work. Garner was the first to be appointed the task of planning for postwar Iraq's reconstruction in 2003 due to his experience assisting the Kurds following the Gulf War in 1991. He served as as director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, now the Coalition Provisional Authority, before being replaced by Paul Bremer.

Garner earned his bachelor's degree in history at Florida State and then a master's degree in public administration from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. He began his military career in the Florida Army National Guard. He later enlisted as a Marine, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army in 1962.

From 1997 until his appointment in 2003 as Director of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance he was the president of SY Technology, Inc. The highly decorated officer served in various Army leadership roles in Iraq, Germany, Europe, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Army Air Defense School. Garner spent tours in Viet Nam during 1967-86 and 1971-72. His final assignment before retirement was assistant vice chief of staff of the Army.

Andrews has served as a judge since 1997, when he was appointed to the bench in Pinellas County as the youngest judge in Florida. He currently presides over family law cases in Clearwater, a position he has held since his appointment to the circuit court in 2003.

A Florida State alumnus, Andrews has a bachelor's degree in political science and earned his Juris Doctorate in 1991. In 2008, he was honored with the Distinguished Judicial Service Award for his years of volunteer work and service as a role model through the Judicial Youth Forums, Pinellas County School system, 500 Role Models of Excellence Project, the Alpha Institute and Men of Tomorrow Program.

In addition to the May 1 and 2 commencement ceremonies, Florida State's College of Nursing and Army and Air Force ROTC will host the following events:

  • The College of Nursing's Academic Convocation will be held in Tully Gym at 3 p.m on May 1. Degrees awarded will include one Post-Master's Nurse Practitioner Certificate, six Master of Science in Nursing degrees, 15 Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science Degrees in Nursing and 59 B.S.N.
  • Florida State's Air Force ROTC will commission 22 second lieutenants at 2 p.m. in the Student Life Building on May 2. The speaker will be Brig. Gen. Darryl Roberson, the wing commander at Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City.
  • Florida State's Army ROTC will also commission 20 second lieutenants May 2 at 5:30 p.m. in Miller Hall. Command Sgt. Maj. Lucio N. Vandevoorde will be the guest speaker.

Florida State University Panama City will honor its graduates at a commencement ceremony Sunday, May 3, at 1:30 p.m. CDT in the Marina Civic Center, in Panama City, Fla. There were 378 students who completed degrees in the summer and fall of 2008 and spring of 2009 at the campus. Approximately 180 of these graduates are expected to participate in the ceremony. The speaker will be Rep. Marti Coley of the Florida House of Representatives, District 7. Lawrence G. Abele, Florida State provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, will preside.

In May, two of the FSU's 16 colleges — Law and Medicine — will hold their own commencement ceremonies:

  • The College of Law's spring commencement ceremony for its 219 graduates is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 9, at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum will be the speaker.
  • The College of Medicine will hold the commencement ceremony for its 73 graduates on Saturday, May 16, at 10 a.m. at Christian Heritage Church, 2820 Sharer Road, Tallahassee. The speaker will be Daniel VanDurme, M.D., professor and chair of the department of family medicine and rural health at the College of Medicine.

A webcast of the three commencement ceremonies can be accessed through a link at

By Jennifer Howard