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U Graduates More Than 7,100 Students

University of Utah students attend the 2009 Commencement ceremony.

May 8, 2009 — This morning, the University of Utah graduated 7,132 students from 76 countries, 50 U.S. states and 28 of Utah’s 29 counties. University President Michael K. Young officiated at the commencement ceremony, held in the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

University honorary degrees were presented to Carol M. Fay for doctor of business, James L. Macfarlane for doctor of business, Peter D. Meldrum for doctor of engineering and to Marva M. Warnock for doctor of fine arts.

The Rosenblatt Prize, a $40,000 cash award and the most prestigious honor the university bestows on its faculty, was presented to Zeev “Valy” Vardeny, distinguished professor of physics at the University of Utah.

The University Distinguished Teaching Award recipients for this year were recognized and are: Peter Alfeld, professor, department of mathematics; Abe Bakhsheshy, professor, department of management; Lynn Bohs, professor, department of biology; Gary Keck, professor, department of chemistry; and Brian Saam, associate professor, department of physics and associate dean of the College of Science.

The Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award recipients are: Polly Wiessner, professor, department of anthropology; and Michael Zhdanov, professor, department of geology and geophysics. The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Janet E. Kaufman, associate professor, department of English.

David McCullough began his commencement remarks in the distant time and place of 1869, during the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. “It is because I see the Brooklyn Bridge as emblematic of the call I wish to make to you of the graduating Class of 2009 to give serious thought to what you wish to accomplish in your turn in your time, and how you wish to be remembered by history,” he said.

“What will you build, you of the new generation upon whom so many high hopes are riding? How will history regard you in years to come – you who are part of this over-ripe, shadowed, uncertain time which has understandably given rise to so many grave forebodings about the future? Will you be a generation of builders, not more mere spectators who leave creativity and performance and responsibility to others? Will you take what you have learned here as inspiration to still greater learning? The easy answer is time will tell. The better answer, I think, is it’s up to you.”

Student speaker Brittany Anne Gadbury celebrated the challenges that composed her education, stating, “I’ve learned that the only obstacle to freedom is one’s decision to idle in fear, and against the potential opportunities of those pathways . . . Bless God for every moment, every trial, every challenged doubt, every brick-heavy textbook, every debate and every heart break.”

Of today’s 7,132 graduates, 4,946 received bachelor’s degrees; 1,733 master’s; 545 are doctorates; 133 are juris doctors; 97 are doctors of medicine; and 49 are doctors of pharmacy. Of this year’s graduates, 3,882 are men and 3,250 are women. The number of degrees awarded exceeds the number of graduates, as some students received more than one degree.

The youngest bachelor’s degree recipient was 18; the oldest, 66. The average age of bachelor’s degree recipients is 26. The average grade point average for this group is 3.14. The average age of students receiving graduate degrees is 32. The youngest student receiving a graduate degree is 21 and the oldest is 83.

The largest number of undergraduate degrees was awarded in economics, psychology, human development and family studies, mass communication, exercise and sports science, nursing, finance, accounting, English and sociology respectively.

Commencement ceremonies for the S.J. Quinney College of Law will be held Friday, May 15, at 10 a.m., in Kingsbury Hall. The School of Medicine will hold commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 23, at 10 a.m., in Kingsbury Hall.

KUED-Channel 7 will broadcast today’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9, at 5:30 p.m. The ceremony also will be available at