The University of Arizona

UA to Celebrate Spring Commencement

By Rebecca Ruiz-McGill, University Communications | April 25, 2011

Savannah Guthrie and Gene Nichol will serve as commencement speakers during the UA's 144th commencement ceremonies, which are open to UA graduates and their friends and family members on May 13-14.

The UA's spring commencement ceremonies will take place May 13-14. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews), More than 6,300 students will receive degrees during the UA's spring commencement ceremonies. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews)
The UA's spring commencement ceremonies will take place May 13-14. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews), More than 6,300 students will receive degrees during the UA's spring commencement ceremonies. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews)
The UA's spring commencement ceremonies will take place May 13-14. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews), More than 6,300 students will receive degrees during the UA's spring commencement ceremonies. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews)
The UA's spring commencement ceremonies will take place May 13-14. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews), More than 6,300 students will receive degrees during the UA's spring commencement ceremonies. (Photo by Norma Jean Gargasz/UANews)

The University of Arizona will celebrate its 144th commencement with two ceremonies – 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 13 for graduate students, and 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14 for undergraduates. 

President Robert N. Shelton will confer degrees upon 5,034 undergraduates, 953 master's/specialist candidates and 357 doctoral students during the two exercises. Both events will be held at McKale Memorial Center.

Savannah Guthrie of NBC News will serve as the undergraduate ceremony speaker. Guthrie graduated cum laude from the UA with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1993. As a White House correspondent, Guthrie has interviewed President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and she has traveled to more than 20 countries as a member of the White House press corps.

Gene Nichol, the speaker for the graduate ceremony, teaches courses in constitutional law, federal courts, civil rights and election law and has taught at Oxford, Exeter, Florida and West Virginia. He founded the Byron White Center of Constitutional Law at the University of Colorado and the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina.

More commencement speaker details can be found on the UANews webpage.

Each college at the UA will host a separate celebration for its graduates. For more information on the college ceremonies, visit the commencement website.

Graduate Ceremony Details

During the graduate commencement at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 13, Shelton will confer 953 master's degrees and 357 doctoral degrees upon students. From the James E. Rogers College of Law, Shelton will confer 154 Juris Doctor degrees, one Scientiae Juridicae doctor, five Master of Laws in Indigenous Peoples' Law and Policy and six Master of Laws in International Trade law.

From the Arizona Health Sciences Center, 132 degrees will be conferred upon students from the College of Medicine, and 85 doctors of pharmacy will be conferred upon students from the College of Pharmacy.

Graduate students are invited to print an invitation to the graduate ceremony to give to professors who inspired and supported them to graduate.

Graduate students from all colleges are invited to participate. Graduate student instructions can be found on the UA commencement website.

The Friday ceremony also will include recognition of honorary degrees. Other awards to be given during the ceremony include the UA Alumni Achievement Award and several graduate student awards.

Honorary Degree Awards

Honorary degrees will be conferred during the graduate ceremony to Ewen A. Whitaker, Phillip C. Miller, Richard N. Morrison and Dr. Douglas G. Stuart.

Whitaker will receive a Doctor of Science from the UA College of Science. He is being recognized for contributions to the UA, mankind and science. He was instrumental in developing the UA's Lunar and Planetary Lab as a world-class leader in planetary studies. He pioneered the technique of ground-based differential UV/Infrared lunar photography, resulting in the first compositional maps of lava flows on the moon. These maps were instrumental in the selection of landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions and his book, "Mapping and Naming the Moon," gives a definitive account of the history of lunar maps and nomenclature.

Phillip C. Miller will receive a Doctor of Science from the UA College of Science for his contributions to the field of cancer diagnosis at a global level and inventions that have improved the lives of cancer patients. Miller is the senior vice president of technology and applied research at Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., which is based in Tucson. He also is being recognized for distinguished contributions and his long-standing local connection with both the University and Tucson communities.

Richard N. Morrison will be recognized with a Doctor of Humane Letters from the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Morrison's contributions include natural resources leadership, the resolution of Indian water rights claims and an infusion of ethical considerations into the management and conservation of natural resources. As part of his legal practice, Morrison has worked on water resource availability, Arizona's most significant natural resource challenge.

Dr. Douglas G. Stuart will be recognized with a Doctor of Science from the UA Graduate College. He has served as head of the UA department of physiology and associate dean for research in the College of Medicine, and, since his retirement in 2002, has been a Regents' Professor Emeritus. Stuart is one of the world's leading electrophysiological investigators of the spinal motor control system, the neurobiology of muscle fatigue and the history of movement neuroscience.

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Alunmi Achievement Award

Christopher J. Littlefield, graduate from the UA class of 1988, is CEO of Aviva USA, a financial-services company with annual sales of more than $7 billion and assets of more than $50 billion. Littlefield is being recognized with the UA Alumni Achievement Award for contributions of his talent, time and resources to the University, its colleges, honoraries, clubs, organizations and the UA Alumni Association.

Undergraduate Ceremony Details

The ceremony for bachelor's degree candidates and their friends and families will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14. This ceremony will include recognition of undergraduate student awards and the presentation of all undergraduates by college.

Procession and assembly instructions for undergraduate candidates for bachelor's degrees can be found on the UA commencement website.

Undergraduate students are asked to RSVP for the Saturday commencement ceremony and to print an invitation to the undergraduate ceremony to give to professors who inspired and supported them to graduate.

Student Awards

Six students will be honored with achievement medals during the ceremony.

Merrill P. Freeman Medals will be awarded to Emily Fritze and Megan Shekleton. Fritze has served as the UA student body president and will graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a minor in Spanish from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Shekleton also will graduate summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in marketing from the Eller College of Management.

Robie Gold Metals will be awarded to Elizabeth Marchionne and Matthew Randle. Marchionne will graduate magna cum laude with honors from the UA College of Medicine with a Bachelor of Science degree in physiology. Randle will graduate from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a Bachelor of Science degree in family studies and human development. He has been instrumental in changing the student veterans' perspective of higher education on the UA campus.  

Robert Logan Nugent Medals will be awarded to two honors students, Mona Eskandari and Sarah Edwards. Eskandari will graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a minor in Near Eastern studies. Edwards will graduate with a degree in biochemistry and molecular biophysics and in molecular and cell biology. She also has gained honors as the Outstanding Senior in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.