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KNOXVILLE — Fall commencement exercises for the University of Tennessee were held Saturday, Dec. 17, at Thompson Boling Arena. Sam Venable, longtime humor columnist and editor for the Knoxville News Sentinel, delivered the keynote address. Approximately 800 students participated in Saturday-s ceremony and nearly 1,700 students received undergraduate and graduate degrees this semester.

Sam Venable

A graduate hooding ceremony also was held Friday, Dec. 16. During the ceremony, degrees were awarded to all master-s, specialists in education and doctoral candidates.

Venable addressed the unusual period in history when these students attended college-bookended by September 11, 2001 and the most devastating hurricanes in American history. However, he also reminded them that even the worst tragedies open doors for opportunity. -The state of Tennessee has a proud tradition of volunteerism and it is now your turn to continue in that tradition,- he said. -The challenge I would give you today is to seize this heritage of volunteerism and make contributions to society.-

Students who graduated this semester face a steadily improving job market. According to Russ Coughenour, director of UT-s career services center, this is the fourth straight graduation period where the university has recorded a positive job growth at the entry level.

-Recruiting on campus is up about 5 or 6 percent since this time last year,- he said. The National Association of Colleges and Employers has reported similar information, saying that the college class of 2006 will enjoy the best job market in four years (www.naceweb.org).

The job economy is also slightly better than last year. -When the market is good, employers are calling you. We have received a lot of calls this semester. We are in a very good spot right now,- said Coughenour.