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U Graduates More Than 7,300 Students

May 2, 2008 — This morning, the University of Utah graduated 7,332 students from 73 countries, 50 U.S. states and 26 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 Claudia Skaggs Luttrell for doctor of humane letters, Kent H. Murdock for doctor of humanities, David G. Neeleman for doctor of business, Dinesh C Patel for doctor of business and Mario R. Capecchi for doctor of science.

The Rosenblatt Prize, a $40,000 cash award and the most prestigious honor the University bestows on its faculty, was presented to Robert A. Goldberg , professor of history and director of the Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah.

The University Distinguished Teaching Award recipients for this year were recognized and are: Denise Dearing, professor, department of biology, Fred Montague, professor, department of biology, Sonia Salari, professor, department of family & consumer studies and Harris Sondak, professor, department of management.

The Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award recipients are: Alan Fogel, professor, department of psychology, Mikhail E. Raikh, professor, department of physics, Gregory A. Voth, professor, department of chemistry. The Distinguished Service Award was presented to Robert Young, associate professor, School of Architecture.

During his commencement remarks, Mario R. Capecchi, 2007 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine and distinguished professor of human genetics and biology, urged graduates to find what they love and pursue it with passion. “Work hard, then work harder, stretch yourselves and be bold and generous in your pursuits,” he said.

Capecchi also challenged graduates to solve new problems and focused on global warming. “Our Earth has a fever and the fever is climbing,” he said. “The problem is before us and the challenge is to do something about it. We should take a leadership role rather than lag behind others in the world. Our resources are not infinite. We have a fragile world and your generation can help solve the problems. I urge you to be bold, passionate and creative, and be good stewards of our fragile Earth.”

Student speaker Luciano Pesci reminded his graduating class of the obligations that accompany the privilege of graduation, offering his family’s dictum, Sempre Avanti, which means in Italian, “always forward.” “As you move into the next phases of your life, I hope you will strive to continue the proud traditions of this University and that when you have finished your work in your discipline, it will be in a greater condition than before you arrived,” he said.

Of today’s 7,332 graduates, 5,174 received bachelor’s degrees; 1,753 master’s; 514 are doctorates; 133 are juris doctors; 101 are doctors of medicine; and 39 are doctors of pharmacy. Of this year’s graduates, 3,948 are men and 3,383 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, 68. 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 82.

The largest number of undergraduate degrees was awarded in economics, family and consumer studies, psychology, nursing, exercise and sport science, communication, finance, biology, English and accounting respectively.

Commencement ceremonies for the S.J. Quinney College of Law will be held Friday, May 19, at 10 a.m., in Kingsbury Hall. The School of Medicine will hold commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 24, at 10 a.m., in Kingsbury Hall.

KUED-Channel 7 will broadcast today’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 3, at 5:30 p.m. The ceremony is also available at