Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland Will be Speaker at UofM Commencement Dec. 16

December 7, 2018 - The University of Memphis will award a total of 1,562 degrees, including 37 doctorates, in two ceremonies at its Commencement Sunday, Dec. 16, at FedExForum.

In the 10 a.m. ceremony, degrees will be awarded to graduates from the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Loewenberg College of Nursing and University College. At 2 p.m., degrees will be 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.

The keynote speaker at the 2 p.m. ceremony will be Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. Strickland was sworn in as mayor in 2016 and has spent the first two-plus years of his tenure following through with his inauguration day pledge to apply "new eyes to solve old problems." In partnership with the work of city employees, 911 call answer times have been drastically reduced; the percentage of city spending with minority and women-owned businesses has dramatically increased; and two major developments – the retention and Downtown move of ServiceMaster's global headquarters and the expansion of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital – speak to the momentum of some $13 billion in recent, current or future development in the region. Strickland's vision is to reverse population loss through a strategy that reinvests in Memphis' core and its neighborhoods, changing a long-held view that Memphis should grow outward.

In the morning ceremony, the featured speaker and honorary degree recipient will be Donald E. Graham, chair of Graham Holdings Company, previously The Washington Post. His family published The Washington Post from 1946­–2013. After graduating from Harvard College, Graham worked as a patrolman with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. He joined The Washington Post in 1971 as a reporter and later held several news and business positions at the newspaper, including publisher and chairman of the board. Graham co-founded and served as chairman of the District of Columbia College Access Program that has helped double the number of D.C. public high school students going on to college. Upon learning of the plight of undocumented students with no access to college, Graham co-founded TheDream.US, a national scholarship fund for DREAMers, created to help undocumented immigrant youth get access to a college education.

In the afternoon ceremony, the honorary degree recipient will be Dr. Robert Waller. Waller is emeritus chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, professor emeritus of Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, and retired president and CEO of Mayo Clinic. Waller joined the Mayo Clinic staff in ophthalmology in 1970. He attained the rank of professor, served as department chair, and was awarded the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Professorship. He served on the American Board of Ophthalmology and received the Lucian Howe Medal from the American Ophthalmologic Society, the highest honor awarded to its members.