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University of Utah to graduate 8,363 students May 7

April 28, 2015 – The general commencement ceremony at the University of Utah will be held Thursday, May 7, at 6:30 p.m. in the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

This year’s graduating class is the largest in the university’s history with 8,363 students—approximately 400 more than last year—representing 24 Utah counties, 50 U.S. states and 77 countries.

“The university has made a concerted effort to create an environment that supports academic success and leads to graduation,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Ruth Watkins. “This year’s increased class size is a testament to the great work that has been done across campus to fulfill this mission.”

General commencement is a campus-wide celebration open to all students, their families and the public. It is an opportunity for the institution to celebrate the graduating class and recognize the students’ achievements. The evening’s program is designed with the graduates in mind and includes the use of videos and multimedia, a collage of Instagram photos documenting the U experience of the class of 2015, as well as elements of “pomp and circumstance” traditionally associated with graduation events.

“Commencement is a celebration of each graduate’s commitment to learning, self-improvement and optimism about the future,” said university President David W. Pershing. “It is a tribute to their abilities and capacity for growth. The university community proudly recognizes the class of 2015, and we welcome everyone to join us in celebrating their success.”

By the numbers

While the class of 2015 is comprised of 8,363 graduates, a total of 8,830 degrees will be conferred, as some receive more than one degree. The university will award 5,665 bachelor’s degrees; 2,158 master’s degrees; 744 doctoral degrees; 124 juris doctors; 80 doctors of medicine; and 59 doctors of pharmacy.

Of this year’s graduates, 4,515 are men and 3,848 are women. The average age of bachelor’s degree recipients is 27; the youngest undergraduate is 19, the oldest is 70. The average grade point average for this group is 3.32. The average age of students receiving graduate degrees is 32. The youngest student receiving a graduate degree is 21 and the oldest is 71.

The largest number of undergraduate degrees awarded will be in the following 10 departments, respectively: communication, psychology, exercise and sport science, economics, human development and family studies, accounting, health promotion and education, business administration, nursing and biology.


President Pershing will officiate at the event.

The keynote speaker is Robert A. McDonald, U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs, an alumnus of the university and former president and CEO of Procter & Gamble, Co., the largest consumer products company in the world.

The student speaker is May Bartlett, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy.

Special awards

Honorary degrees will be presented to Anne Cullimore Decker, Doctor of Fine Arts; Henry B. Eyring, Doctor of Humane Letters; and Mark Fuller, Doctor of Engineering.

The Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence, a $40,000 cash award and the most prestigious honor the university bestows on its faculty, will be announced in a separate press release the morning of May 7.

The Distinguished Teaching Award recipients for this year are: David Derezotes, professor of social work and director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program; David Gard, professor of biology and director of undergraduate advising in biology; William Richards, clinical professor of law; and Kenneth W. Spitzer, professor of internal medicine (cardiovascular medicine) and director of the Nora Eccles Harrison Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute.

The Calvin S. and JeNeal N. Hatch Prize in Teaching is awarded to John (Rick) Ash, professor of neurobiology and anatomy; and Douglas Christensen, professor of bioengineering, bioengineering undergraduate advisor and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award recipients are: Christopher D. Hacon, distinguished professor of mathematics; Colleen McDannell, professor of history and Sterling M. McMurrin Professor of Religious Studies; and Wayne K. Potts, professor of biology.

The Distinguished Innovation and Impact Award recipients are: Lisa Cannon-Albright, professor and chief of the Division of Genetic Epidemiology; and William Jenson, professor of educational psychology.

The Distinguished Faculty Service Award goes to Carrie L. Byington, H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Professor of Pediatrics, associate vice president for Faculty and Academic Affairs for Health Sciences and director of the Utah Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Schedule for college convocations

Each college holds a convocation ceremony, where candidates for graduation are acknowledged individually and where college-specific awards are presented. College convocations are scheduled as follows:

  • Thursday, May 7, 2015
    • Social and Behavioral Science, graduate students, Kingsbury Hall, 10 a.m.
  • Friday, May 8, 2015
    • Architecture + Planning, Union Ballroom, 3 p.m.
    • David Eccles School of Business, Jon M. Huntsman Center, 7 p.m.
    • David Eccles School of Business, Executive MBA graduates, Spencer F. Eccles Business Building, seventh floor, 3:30 p.m.
    • Education, Kingsbury Hall, 8 a.m.
    • Engineering, Jon M. Huntsman Center, 9 a.m.
    • Fine Arts, Kingsbury Hall, 3:30 p.m.
    • Health, Jon M. Huntsman Center, 2 p.m.
    • Humanities, Jon M. Huntsman Center, 4:30 p.m.
    • Mines and Earth Sciences, Union Ballroom, 12 p.m.
    • Nursing, Kingsbury Hall, 10:30 a.m.
    • Pharmacy, Union Ballroom, 9 a.m.
    • Science, Kingsbury Hall, 6 p.m.
    • Social and Behavioral Science, undergraduate students, Jon M. Huntsman Center, 11:30 a.m.
    • Social Work, Kingsbury Hall, 1 p.m.
  • Friday, May 15, 2015
    • J. Quinney College of Law, Kingsbury Hall, 10 a.m.
  • Saturday, May 23, 2015
    • Medicine, Kingsbury Hall, 10 a.m.

Transportation and parking

Campus parking lots may be used at no charge during commencement and convocation ceremonies. As campus parking is limited, visitors are encouraged to use the free U shuttle service to travel between commencement events. Shuttles run throughout campus and are scheduled every 10 minutes. The U campus is also a TRAX free fare zone on May 7 and 8.

Those unable to attend commencement will be able to watch the live stream on the university’s website,, or watch the rebroadcast on KUED, channel 7, Saturday, May 9, at 5:30 p.m. MST.