Skip to main content
Graduates take a selfie after the Haslam College of Business commencement ceremony on May 20, 2023.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will welcome approximately 1,960 graduates into its alumni family as they are honored during fall commencement ceremonies on Friday, Dec. 15.

Arthur “A. B.” Culvahouse Jr. will address graduates as the keynote speaker at 9 a.m. and will also be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs in recognition of his work as a policy expert and public servant.

Graduate hooding will take place at 3 p.m. with PhD candidate Hunter A. Hammock providing the address. Both ceremonies will be held in Thompson-Boling Arena at Food City Center and will be webcast live on the commencement website.

On the same day, two cadets from Army ROTC and three from Air Force ROTC will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Army ROTC commissioning ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. at Cox Auditorium in the Alumni Memorial Building. The Air Force ROTC commissioning ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. in Student Union Room 270.

The university will award approximately 1,274 undergraduate degrees and 686 graduate degrees and certificates.

Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr.

ArthurFor more than four decades, Culvahouse has played an important role at the intersection of law, government and politics. He currently serves as a member of UT’s Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs board and chair of the Institute of American Civics Board of Fellows.

Culvahouse graduated from UT with a degree in business administration in 1970 and went on to earn his law degree from New York University. Shortly after, he became the chief legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Howard Baker. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as White House counsel in 1987 to advise the president and his administration in the Iran-Contra investigations. Culvahouse also advised Reagan on legal aspects of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Anthony Kennedy. In 1989, Reagan awarded him the Presidential Citizens Medal.

Culvahouse has served on multiple government boards and commissions focusing on national security and U.S. intelligence operations, including an advisory committee that recommended improvements in the nuclear command and control system. In 1992, then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney awarded him the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. He has helped vet numerous Republican vice presidential nominees over the years and served as U.S. ambassador to Australia from 2018 to 2021.

When not in government, Culvahouse has practiced law at the international firm of O’Melveny and Myers, which he served as chair from 2000 to 2011.

Hunter A. Hammock

Hunter-HammockHunter A. Hammock, of Ashland City, Tennessee, is proud to be receiving his PhD in plant, soil and environmental sciences from UT’s Herbert College of Agriculture.

Hammock cultivated a deep love for nature at a young age, cherishing memories of tending the garden alongside his grandparents. He started his journey at UT in 2010 as a chemistry major. As an undergraduate he volunteered over 240 hours of community service, completed the Leadership Knoxville Scholars program, and co-founded the UT chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success.

Hammock’s research interest was sparked during his senior year when he joined the crop physiology lab headed by Institute Professor of Plant Sciences Carl Sams. After receiving his BS in 2015, Hammock pursued a graduate research and teaching assistantship, and he earned his MS in plant sciences in 2018. He then began his doctoral program.

Hammock has published six peer-reviewed manuscripts and earned numerous recognitions at the regional and national levels. Among other honors, he was awarded first place for his dissertation project at the annual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science. His graduate leadership roles included serving as president of the Graduate Student Senate and advisor for the UT chapter of NSLS. Earlier this year he received the Chancellor’s Citation for Extraordinary Campus Leadership and Service.

Believing that sustainable production of flavorful and nutritious food is foundational to societal health and happiness, Hammock is driven to use his leadership and research acumen to address evolving challenges in horticulture, human nutrition and sustainability.

Parking and Security Information

Graduates and their guests can park free of charge in university student parking areas throughout campus but should avoid parking in staff parking areas. The G10 garage next to the arena will have limited access. Guests are strongly encouraged to enter and exit the G10 garage from Neyland Drive. Visit the UT Parking and Transit website for details.

The university’s clear bag policy will be enforced. Guests will be screened on entry by event security staff. Binoculars, cameras and video cameras are permissible without cases. Smoking, including e-cigarettes, is prohibited in and on all university property, including in private vehicles parked or in operation on university property.

For more information on which items are allowed and prohibited in the stadium as well as security policies, visit the commencement website.


Erica Estep (865-974-2225,

Maggie Palmer (865-974-3993,