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KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee officials are preparing for about 3,400 graduates to attend UT’s 2002 spring commencement.

Richard Bayer, UT dean of admissions and records, said the number of students at the 9 a.m., May 11, ceremony could be the most in UT history.

Expected attendance is up because UT is ending summer commencement and allowing summer graduates to attend the spring ceremony, Bayer said. Summer commencement, held annually since 1943, was eliminated this year to help streamline graduation ceremonies.

“Commencement is always a special time for graduates and their families,” Bayer said, “and this one could be even more special in terms of students participating. It could be an historic moment for UT.”

The most students in a UT commencement was 2,318 in spring 2000. About 2,200 students usually attend spring commencement and fewer than 1,000 attend summer.

Bayer said 2,473 spring graduates and 899 students set for summer graduation have registered to attend the May 11 commencement. While summer graduates may attend, they will not receive degrees until August.

Bayer said spectator seats in Thompson Boling Arena might be used, along with traditional folding chairs, to accommodate more students.

Recent changes in UT’s commencement routine, such as pre-seating students beforehand, also will help make the larger numbers more manageable, he said.

Commencement speaker will be Ann Taylor, a newscaster for

Ann Taylor

National Public Radio and a fixture on NPR’s award-winning newsmagazine All Things Considered since August 1989.

Taylor, who earned the bachelor’s degree in English and minor in history at UT, won the UT Woman of the Year award in 1996.

As a radio correspondent for NBC News, she covered the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, the 1979 release of American hostages from Iran, Richard Nixon’s resignation, and the activities leading up to the Watergate trial.

Prior to serving as news anchor at WTOP Radio and TV in Washington, D.C., she delivered radio and television newscasts for WATE in Knoxville.

Parking for commencement is available in the following areas: G-10 entering from Neyland Drive, C-17, C-18, and C-3.