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An Apollo 17 astronaut, Tennessee’s 48th governor and the founder of HGTV will receive honorary degrees from UT this spring. They will join several other noted industry and academic leaders in addressing graduates during a dozen commencement ceremonies next month.

Here’s a look at the speakers at each ceremony. Unless otherwise noted, all ceremonies will be held in Thompson-Boling Arena.

Thursday, May 11

  • College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, 8:30 a.m., UT alumnus Isaac Bennett, vice president and capital markets manager for Farm Credit Bank of Texas
  • Tickle College of Engineering, noon, UT alumnus Bennett Croswell, president, military engines, Pratt & Whitney
  • College of Communication and Information, 3:30 p.m., Ken Lowe, chairman of the board, president, and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive and honorary degree recipient. Lowe has been one of the world’s leading communication and information industry executives for nearly five decades. He founded and launched HGTV and oversaw the acquisition and transformation of the Food Network and the Travel Channel. He was responsible for relocating the Scripps Network Interactive corporate headquarters from Cincinnati to Knoxville.
  • Graduate Hooding, 7 p.m., Phil Bredesen, former governor of Tennessee and honorary degree recipient. Bredesenserved as Tennessee’s governor from 2003 to 2011. His administration supported the Tennessee Lottery program and associated scholarship programs. He was instrumental in the creation of UT’s Energy Science and Engineering doctoral program, which is housed in the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, named in his honor. His interest in the partnership between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory initiated the Governor’s Chairs program, which has attracted 15 renowned scholars and researchers to fill joint appointments at UT and ORNL.

Friday, May 12

  • College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, 8:30 a.m., UT alumna Sarah Hillyer, director of the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society
  • College of Social Work, noon, student and faculty speakers
  • College of Architecture and Design, 3 p.m., UT alumnus Patrick Hazari, director of design and construction at Friends of the High Line in New York City
  • College of Nursing, 7 p.m., student and faculty speakers

Saturday, May 13

  • College of Arts and Sciences, 9 a.m., Harrison Schmitt, astronaut, former US senator and honorary degree recipient. Schmitt flew in space as Apollo 17’s lunar module pilot, landing on the moon on December 11, 1972. He is the only professional scientist to have stepped on the moon. He served as a US senator from New Mexico from 1976 to 1982 and chaired the NASA Advisory Council. He has been inducted into both the International Space Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and had a US Department of State leadership award named in his honor.
  • College of Veterinary Medicine, 10 a.m. (James R. Cox Auditorium, Alumni Memorial Building), Joe Bartges, former faculty member now a professor of internal medicine and nutrition at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine. 
  • Haslam College of Business, 2 p.m. UT alumnus Charlie Anderson, CEO of Anderson Media Corporation and a UT trustee 
  • College of Law, 5 p.m., Paulette Brown, immediate past president of the American Bar Association

For more information visit the Spring Commencement 2017 website.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,