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KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee trustee Spruell Driver urged new graduates today to carefully manage the incredible investments that have been made in their lives.

UT Trustee Spruell Driver
UT Trustee Spruell Driver
Driver, a 1987 graduate of UT Knoxville, provided the keynote address to more than 1,200 new graduates at a ceremony held at Thompson-Boling Arena.

“As graduates from the state’s flagship university, you are the beneficiaries of a tremendous investment by the citizens of Tennessee,” Driver said. “Because of their investment in your potential, you have each been favored with the most potent instrument of change known to mankind, a quality education. You have a responsibility to use it well, to add to it and to share it with those around you, that they too can be lifted up.”

During his address, Driver encouraged graduates to get involved with their local UTNAA chapters.

“As alumni, we are key stakeholders,” he said. “The UT story continually needs to be told and our alumni are the best messengers. We have a wonderful opportunity to tell others about UT.”

Driver urged the students to appreciate the value of their education and to share it with others. Driver referred to an African proverb in making this point.

The proverb tells of a lion and a gazelle in the plains of Africa. Each animal must outrun the other in order to survive and therefore must wake up each day and start running. Driver said this ancient tale has much to teach us today about the value of hard work and preparation in our global economy.

“Each of you, through your experiences here at UT, Knoxville, have been equipped with the skills to adapt and evolve with the constant changes that will take place in the workplace,” Driver said.

Driver is an attorney with Waller, Lansden, Dortch & Davis LLP in Nashville and focuses on commercial real estate and finance law.

Appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to the UT Board of Trustees in 2005, he is chair of the Advancement and Public Affairs Committee and a member of the Executive and Compensation Committee. Driver also served as president of the UT National Alumni Association (UTNAA) in 2004-05, traveling throughout the state and beyond representing the university’s more than 300,000 alumni.

The career outlook is healthy for this semester’s graduates, according to Russ Coughenour, director of UT’s career services.

“The mood and climate of the job market is very good, especially for certain majors,” he said. “Students are receiving multiple offers and signing bonuses. The companies are really competing with each other and the ultimate benefactor of that is the student.”

UT’s improved marketing efforts and the lottery scholarship have resulted in a crop of academically gifted students and that is catching the attention of employers, said Coughenour. “Employers are coming to college campuses looking for new, fresh talent,” he said. “We are even starting to see some companies coming back to campus that haven’t recruited here for some time.”

“The health of the entry level job market and the amount employers are offering is really the story of the semester,” he said. “All indications show that the entry level job market will remain strong.”

On Friday, students receiving advanced degrees were recognized in a graduate hooding ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena. Seventy-three doctorate degrees, 2 specialists in education and more than 500 master’s degrees were conferred.

More than 2,700 students were eligible to participate in commencement. The ceremony can be viewed in an archived webcast at

Beth Gladden, media relations, (865) 974-9008, (865) 771-1284 or