Colleges & Campus News

UCF Announces May 2018 Commencement Speakers

Learn more about this year’s speakers, who will address more than 8,100 UCF graduates at six commencement ceremonies.

By Gene Kruckemyer '73 |
May 2, 2018

male ucf student in black cap and gown at graduation

(Photo by Austin Warren)

UCF has announced its speakers for this spring’s six commencement ceremonies, which run May 3-5 at the CFE Arena. The speakers will address roughly 8,118 UCF students who are expected to graduate this semester, and President John C. Hitt will confer 6,788 bachelor’s, 1,183 master’s and 147 doctoral degrees.

UCF has awarded more than 318,000 degrees since classes began in 1968. Hitt, who will retire from the presidency on June 30, has awarded more than 262,000 of them — or more than 82 percent of all UCF degrees.

Of this spring’s graduates, more than 25 percent are first-generation students, and more than 50 percent of graduates earning bachelor’s degrees are Pell Grant eligible. Those subsidies are for students in financial need.

Watch the commencement livestream.

 

Tom Kuntz

Retired president and CEO of SunTrust Bank, Florida

May 3 at 9 a.m. – Commencement ceremony for the College of Arts & Humanities, College of Engineering & Computer Science, and College of Optics & Photonics

For 35 years, Kuntz worked at SunTrust Banks. He served as corporate executive vice president and geographic banking executive until he retired in 2013. A graduate of Rollins College and Louisiana State University, he has a long record of service to higher education in Florida, including as a trustee of Rollins College and the University of Florida, as well as a former chair of the Florida Higher Education Coordinating Council and the Florida Board of Governors. For his service, he has been recognized with the Governor’s Business Leader of the Year Award and the Governor’s Business Ambassador Award.

 

Jeb Bush

Former governor of Florida

May 3 at 2:30 p.m. – Commencement ceremony for the College of Graduate Studies, College of Medicine, College of Undergraduate Studies, and Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Bush was the first two-term Republican governor in Florida, during which he championed reform in the state’s taxing and spending, education, health care, environmental protection, and civil service. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Bush began his career in 1981 by growing a startup company into the largest commercial real estate firm in South Florida. He currently serves as chairman of both Dock Square Capital, a merchant bank headquartered in Miami, and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a national nonprofit educational-reform organization that he founded. He has written three books.

His influential support of UCF includes his advocacy for funding of the State University System (SUS), his appointment of members to the charter UCF Board of Trustees, and his championing of the UCF College of Medicine.

 

Buddy Dyer

Orlando Mayor

May 4 at 9 a.m. – Commencement ceremony for the College of Sciences

Elected mayor of Orlando in 2003, Dyer is the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history, As mayor, he has advocated for community diversity, innovation, technology and environmental sustainability, and advances in public safety. His leadership has helped bring to Orlando a new arena for the Orlando Magic, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, large-scale renovations of Camping World Stadium, and the establishment of SunRail. A graduate of Brown University and University of Florida, Dyer was named Municipal Leader of the Year by American City & County Magazine and received the Leadership in the Arts Award from Americans for the Arts.

As a supporter of UCF, he was instrumental in the founding of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, UCF Downtown, and the UCF College of Medicine and future UCF hospital at Lake Nona.

 

Carolyn Roberts

Founder and president of Roberts Real Estate in Ocala

May 4 at 2:30 p.m. – Commencement ceremony for the College of Education & Human Performance and College of Nursing

Roberts began her service to the SUS in 1989 when she was appointed to the Florida Board of Regents, later serving as both vice-chair and chair. A graduate of Florida Southern College, she was appointed to the Florida Board of Education and then to the Florida Board of Governors, where she was elected vice chair and then chair. She has served on the boards of the Florida Real Estate Commission, the Florida Association of Basic Medical Scientists, Shands Hospital at UF, the UCF Foundation, the UF Board of Trustees, the UF Foundation, and the UF Research Foundation.

As a former member of the Board of Regents search committee, she played a role in approving John C. Hitt as president of UCF. As chair of the Board of Governors, her leadership was instrumental in gaining approval for the UCF College of Medicine.

 

Jim Heekin

Attorney at Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed

May 5 at 9 a.m. – Commencement ceremony for the College of Business

Heekin chairs the health care and aviation practice groups at Lowndes, focusing on corporate transactions and mergers and acquisitions. A graduate of UF and Florida State University, he was appointed in 1991 to the Florida Board of Regents, where he later served as chairman. Through the years, he has been a strong advocate for enhanced funding for the SUS system. He also has served on the boards of Shands HealthCare, the Florida Institute for Film, the UCF Foundation, UCF Research Foundation, Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival, and the Orlando Repertory Theatre.

As a former member of the Board of Regents search committee, he also played a role in approving John C. Hitt as president of UCF.

 

Teresa Jacobs

Orange County Mayor

May 5 at 2:30 p.m. – Commencement ceremony for College of Health & Public Affairs

As Orange County mayor, Jacobs has pushed for governmental ethics reform, transparency and public engagement. A graduate of FSU, she served two terms as county commissioner before being elected mayor in 2011, and previously had a successful nine-year career in banking. As a limited-term mayor, Jacobs is not allowed to seek a third term. She recently announced a bid for Orange County School Board. Jacobs has served as president of the Florida Association of Counties, as well as chair of both the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council and the Central Florida Smart Growth Authority, among others.

As mayor, she helped UCF establish a hospital at Lake Nona.

 

Planning to Attend?

All guests attending the ceremonies, including children and infants, are required to have a ticket.

Because of security measures, guests should expect long lines at the door. It is advised not to take purses, backpacks or large bags to expedite security screenings. Doors at the arena will open 90 minutes before the start of each ceremony.

Those who do not have tickets can view a telecast of the ceremonies on closed-circuit television at the FAIRWINDS Alumni Center and the Student Union, if seats are available.

Visit the commencement website for more details.