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KNOXVILLE — Dr. Lorayne W. Lester, former University of Tennessee dean of arts and sciences and the first woman to hold that post, will speak at UT’s fall commencement at 9 a.m. Friday, Dec. 13, in Thompson-Boling arena.

Lester, who retired in July after serving as dean since 1996, earned bachelor’s, master’s and

Dr. Lorayne W. Lester

doctoral degrees at UT from 1957 to 1975.

She became a UT instructor in 1968 and was the fifth woman to achieve full professor status in the College of Arts and Sciences, serving as professor of speech and theatre from 1984 until her retirement.

Lester was department head of speech and theatre from 1978-82, head of speech communication from 1986-90, and associate dean for academic programs from 1990-96.

She was elected president elect of the Faculty Senate in 1990, but resigned to take the associate dean post.

Other honors include membership in Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and the Royal Society of Antiquaries in Scotland; 1982 Tennessee Theatre Distinguished Service Award; 1983 Mellon Foundation Regional Faculty Development Award; 1986 Association for Communication Administration National Merit Award; and 1987 Tennessee Speech Communication Association Speaker of the Year Award.

In 2001, Lester was co-recipient of the UT Notable Woman Award.

About 1,850 candidates have applied for UT’s fall graduation, and more than 1,500 are expected to participate at Friday’s commencement, Tammy Murphy, UT assistant registrar, said.