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Doug Blaze, left, dean of the College of law, bestows an honorary Doctorate of Law hood on John Seigenthaler while Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek looks on.

The university awarded renowned journalist John Seigenthaler an honorary doctorate today at the College of Law’s commencement ceremony.

This event was a highlight of a full week of ceremonies, which conclude Saturday. View a full schedule of events here. More than 3,730 undergraduate and graduate students are receiving degrees this week.

The College of Law ceremony also featured Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander, who provided the keynote address. Today’s ceremony marks the fifth honorary degree to be awarded by the UT Knoxville campus and the first from the College of Law.

Seigenthaler is a well-known champion for First Amendment rights. A Nashville native, he is chairman emeritus of the Tennessean newspaper and founding editorial director of USA Today. He also founded the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University and now serves as the center’s senior advisory trustee.

“John Seigenthaler embodies what it means to be an American,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. “His incredible and storied life serves to remind us all about the precious freedoms we all enjoy as US citizens.”

Cheek said the Nashville native “embodies the Volunteer spirit through his words, his service and his commitment to truth, equality, and justice.”

Seigenthaler said he was humbled to receive the honor and to share the occasion with the college’s new graduates.

“I hope that you will commit your own lives to practicing the law and to pursue the ideals to make it a more livable and a more lawful society,” Seigenthaler said.

See an archived video of the ceremony here.

UT Knoxville also has given honorary degrees to Howard H. Baker Jr., Dolly Parton, Al Gore and Charles O. “Chad” Holliday.

C O N T A C T :

Karen Simsen (865-974-5186,