Friday, April 10, 2009

President Bill Clinton, U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek and CNN Anchor Soledad O’Brien Keynote FAMU’s 2009 Spring Commencement

Former President Bill Clinton will lead the line up of speakers scheduled for Florida A&M University’s Spring 2009 Commencement on May 3, 2009.

President Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation will address students slated to receive degrees at the first of three sessions beginning at 9 a.m. in the new Multipurpose Center Teaching Gymnasium. Other speakers are: U.S. Congressman Kendrick Meek and CNN Anchor/Special Correspondent Soledad O’Brien.

Elected President in 1992, and again in 1996, President Clinton will share his life lessons with graduates and challenge them to “transform ideas into action.”

Since 2001, President Clinton has dedicated himself to philanthropy and public service through his foundation. He also joined forces with former President Bush with relief and recovery efforts following the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and led a nationwide fundraising effort in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

During the early morning session, the University will present an Honorary Doctorate to Elder Ernest Ferrell, President of the National Primitive Baptist Church. Ferrell, a native of Tallahassee, is active in the community and also serves as president and CEO of the Tallahassee Urban League.

The second commencement session will be held at 2 p.m. Meek will address the graduating class. Meek an alumnus is one of two Floridians who serves on the Ways and Means Committee and the only Floridian Ways and Means member of the Democratic majority.

Meek earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice in 1989 from FAMU. An experienced legislator who served eight years in the Florida House (1995-1998) and Senate (1999-2002), Meek launched the initiative to reduce class sizes in Florida schools.

In 2007, Meek was appointed to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. He is one of only 12 members of Congress to represent the United States on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Meek is the son of former Congresswoman and alumna Carrie P. Meek.

At 6 p.m. O’Brien will offer words of advice to graduates. Since joining CNN in 2003, O’Brien has reported breaking news from around the globe. Her award-winning documentaries have helped the nation understand issues affecting the African-American community. One of her most recent projects include CNN Presents: Black in America, a ground breaking initiative that focused on the state of black America 40 years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

O’Brien was part of the coverage teams that earned CNN a George Foster Peabody Award for its Katrina coverage and an Alfred I. duPont Award for its coverage of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia. She has also won an Emmy for her work as a co-host on Discovery Channel’s The Know Zone.

Completing the evening session, President James H. Ammons will present Art Collins, president and CEO for Public Private Partnership, Inc., with an Honorary Doctorate. Collins is a former member of the FAMU Board of Trustees. He served as Senior Political Strategist for President Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. Following the election he served as a public liaison with the Obama-Biden Transition Project.

The FAMU Schools and Colleges graduating at the 9 a.m. session include, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Law, the School of Architecture and Environmental Sciences Institute. The line of march for this session will begin at 8:30 a.m. Graduates are to arrive at 7:30 a.m., and doors open for the public at 8 a.m.

Students in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, School of Allied Health Sciences and the School of Nursing will be presented at the 2 p.m. session. The line of march for the 2 p.m. session is 1:30 p.m. Graduates are to arrive at 12:30 p.m., and doors open for the public at 1 p.m.

The final commencement exercise will include the School of Business and Industry, College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture, College of Education and the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. The line of march will start at 5:30 p.m. Graduates are to arrive at 4:30 p.m., and doors open for the public at 5 p.m.

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