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142nd Commencement Honors More Than 5,900 Grads

Media Contact: Kathy Johnson, 859-257-1754/559-5396  

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 9, 2009) More than 5,900 graduates were recognized at the University of Kentucky's 142nd Commencement ceremony today in Lexington's Rupp Arena. Those included the spring 2009 graduates as well as those who received their degrees in August and December 2008. Various recognition ceremonies for individual colleges and programs were scheduled as well.

Each year one student is chosen to address the graduating class. Drew Trimble, a political science and communication major from Paintsville, Ky., was selected from a number of student applicants. William English Kirwan, the third chancellor of the University System of Maryland, presented the Commencement address.

Trimble who graduated with a 4.0 GPA, challenged his fellow graduates to not compromise in finding their way in life despite the current economic situation.

"There might not be too much of a demand for jobs, but there is a shortage of people that can lead, who can dream and can innovate," Trimble told the Class of 2009. "This world needs our leadership, our ingenuity, and our vision. I have confidence in the future of this state and this country because I have confidence in us."

Trimble is participating in the University Scholars Program, which allowed him, as an undergraduate, to concurrently finish his first year of graduate work toward a master's degree in public administration from UK's Martin School of Public Policy and Administration. His involvement on campus includes the University Leadership Summit, serving as a K Book editor, Student Development Council, and serving as a UK Ambassador.

Kirwan's roots in higher education run deep. He is a graduate of UK, where his father, Albert D. Kirwan, served as the seventh president. The younger Kirwan served as president of the University of Maryland at College Park and as president of The Ohio State University before assuming his current position at the helm of the University System of Maryland. He is a nationally recognized authority on critical issues shaping higher education.

In his Commencement address, Kirwan provided an apology from his generation to the new generation of graduates: "We are leaving you with quite a mess and I'm not just talking about the financial meltdown." Kirwan went on to say that educationally, environmentally and economically, the U.S. needs the help of this new generation of leaders.

"It almost seems divine intervention that just when our nation's and the globe's problems seem so immense and intractable, along comes a generation with the values and the potential to make things right," Kirwan said. "But to do so, you must set your sights high and restore American leadership in education, in economic and environmental matters, and in health care."

In addition to being a featured speaker, Kirwan joined two others in receiving honorary doctorates. He received the Honorary Doctor of Science.

Longtime Washington, D.C., journalist Helen Thomas was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Thomas, a native of Winchester, Ky., is a former White House Bureau Chief for United Press International. Commonly referred to as "The First Lady of the Press," Thomas is well-known for breaking through barriers for women reporters while covering every president since John. F. Kennedy.

An Honorary Doctor of Engineering was presented to Mark E. Davis, the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Professor of Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. He also is the founder of Insert Therapeutics Inc. and Calando Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which researches cancer therapy alternatives. Davis earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate in chemical engineering from UK.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallions, were presented at the Commencement ceremony to a graduating male student, a graduating female student and a non-student, recognizing individuals whose commitment to community service shows characteristics of heart, mind, and conduct as demonstrated by a spirit of love for and helpfulness to other men and women.

The graduating female award winner is Corinne Keel, a political science major from Louisville with a 4.0 GPA. Keel, who won a Truman Scholarship in 2008 and has been involved in many community service endeavors including working on projects for AmeriCorps and Habitat for Humanity and helping build a community center during a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. At UK, she has been active as a teaching assistant for a local elementary school and has been involved in the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center and the UK Gay Straight Alliance, for which she served as president in her junior year.

The graduating male award winner is Aun Ali Munis of Prospect, Ky., a biology major with a 4.0 GPA. Munis, who has attended UK on an Otis Singletary Scholarship, the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship, has been involved in several student organizations, including serving as president of the Muslim Student Association, philanthropy chairman of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and member of the Student Development Council. He has been active in several service programs including DanceBlue, the Catholic Action Center, Surgery on Sunday Program and Habitat for Humanity.

The non-student Sullivan Medallion recipient is Patricia "Trish" Freeman, a faculty member in the UK College of Pharmacy. Freeman was nominated for her significant contributions to the deaf and hard of hearing community. As a mother of two deaf sons who now hear through the technology of cochlear implants, Freeman helped lead a successful effort to have the state mandate health insurance coverage for hearing aids for children in Kentucky who need them. She has worked on many efforts on behalf of the deaf and hard of hearing, including creating a parent information network to provide support for parents; expanding the TDD (telecommunications devices for the deaf) Program; and working with television broadcasters and the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security to develop a plan to ensure the deaf and hard of hearing community could be communicated with in the event of a disaster. Freeman currently chairs the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Two other distinguished awards were presented during the Commencement ceremony.

The Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize was awarded to Sylvia Daunert, Gill Eminent Professor of Analytical and Biological Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences. The award, named in honor of the seventh president of the University of Kentucky and his wife, recognizes a full-time faculty member for original research or creative scholarship and carries a $5,000 cash prize.

Michael Andrykowski, a UK Provost's Distinguished Service Professor and faculty member in the Department of Behavioral Science, College of Medicine, received the William B. Sturgill Award. The award, given to a graduate faculty member for outstanding contributions to graduate education at UK, is named in honor of William B. Sturgill, who served 18 years on the university's Board of Trustees, 10 of those years as chairperson. The award carries a $2,000 prize.


Page last updated: 11/19/2013 1:58:31 PM