December 2019 Commencement

The University of Memphis awarded 1,690 degrees in two ceremonies at its winter Commencement Sunday, Dec. 15, at FedExForum. At the 10 a.m. ceremony, degrees were awarded to graduates from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, College of Arts & Sciences, Loewenberg College of Nursing, and College of Professional and Liberal Studies (formerly University College). At the 2 p.m. session, degrees were presented to students from the School of Public Health, Herff College of Engineering, Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality & Resort Management, Fogelman College of Business & Economics, College of Communication and Fine Arts, College of Education and School of Health Studies.

Featured speakers were students Sarah Janne LaPidus at 10 a.m. and Andrea Baird at 2 p.m.

The UofM also presented two honorary doctoral degrees at Commencement – to Alan B. Graf Jr. at the 10 a.m. ceremony and to Dr. Michael J. Spalding at the 2 p.m. session.

Graf is executive vice president and CFO of FedEx Corp., where he is responsible for all aspects of the corporation's global financial functions, including financial planning, treasury, tax, accounting and controls, internal audit, investor relations and corporate development. He is also a member of the five-person Executive Committee, which plans and executes the corporation's strategic business activities. Graf joined the company in 1980 as a senior financial analyst and has held management positions throughout the Finance Division. Before FedEx Corp. was formed in 1998, he served as executive vice president and CFO of FedEx Express.

Graf was born in Evansville, Ind. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, where he is a member of the Academy of Alumni Fellows. Graf serves on the boards of directors for Nike Inc. and Mid-America Apartment Communities Inc. He a member and past chair of the University of Memphis Board of Trustees.

Spalding is founder of Equal Chance for Education (ECE). He was born in Bowling Green, Ky., and attended Washington and Lee University on a scholarship. He then received his MD degree from University of Virginia. After his residency at Vanderbilt and two years as lieutenant commander and general surgeon at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Spalding entered private practice for 37 years. After retiring, Spalding founded ECE, a scholarship program for undocumented immigrants in Nashville, after he saw a family friend denied equitable access to higher education. Six years ago, ECE began with two students and now supports 306 ECE scholars statewide, distributing $1.4 million annually in scholarships. Currently 58 ECE scholars attend the University of Memphis and ECE plans to continue enrolling students at the University.