UF President Ben Sasse recognized UF doctoral candidates for their achievements —- making the ceremony one of his first official public on-campus appearances since appointed.
Sasse reiterated his famous phrase to begin the ceremony:
“This is the most interesting university in the country,” Sasse said.
Sasse and UF faculty posthumously awarded Tom Petty with an honorary doctor of music degree.
“The University of Florida recognizes Tom Petty for his achievements as a rockstar, beacon of creative freedom and an advocate for his fellow artists, and for those most in need, and for our Gators,” Sasse said.
Petty’s brother Bruce was supposed to attend to accept the diploma, but he canceled shortly before the ceremony. Sasse accepted the degree in his honor.
“I don’t know about y’all, but I feel like I need to go work out,” Sasse said. “I still remember specific wrestling practices in the 1980s that I only got through because of the soundtrack that came from Tom Petty.”
Sasse welcomed outgoing provost Joe Glover and commencement speaker, UF professor Leslie Parker, who was selected by former president Kent Fuchs months ago. She is the first college of nursing faculty member to speak at a UF doctoral commencement ceremony.
When welcoming Parker to speak, Sasse delivered a speech about the importance of NICU nurses and the lifesaving work they perform.
UF Spokesperson Cynthia Roldan confirmed Sasse is expected to speak at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, undergraduate Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and the university-wide commencement ceremonies.
Contact Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @grunewaldclaire.
Claire Grunewald is a fourth-year journalism major and the Fall 2023 engagement managing editor. In the past, she reported for the university and metro desks. When she isn't working at The Alligator, she is reviewing books on Goodreads and going to concerts.