More than 3,500 newly minted graduate and undergraduate students will celebrate at the BankUnited Center this week during six commencement ceremonies that, over three days, May 7-9, will feature words of wisdom from two accomplished alumni, two departing University leaders, and one of America’s most beloved troubadours—who may or may not sing his advice.
Jimmy Buffett, who has been delighting sold-out audiences with his joy-inspiring tunes about sailors and the sea, island antics, fickle waves of love and life, and, of course, “Margaritaville,” for four decades will deliver the commencement address at the 1 p.m. undergraduate ceremony on Friday, May 8, when 815 students from the schools of architecture, communication, education and human development, marine and atmospheric science, music, and nursing and health studies will cross the stage.
For the first time in her 14 years at the U and as one of her last official acts, UM President Donna E. Shalala will be a commencement speaker at not one but two ceremonies—the week’s final rites on Saturday, May 9, when the School of Law and the Miller School of Medicine hold their exercises, graduating 393 would-be lawyers at 10 a.m. and 181 new medical doctors at 5 p.m.
As she’s always done, Shalala, who is officially stepping down as president on May 31, will preside over all the ceremonies, shaking more than 3,500 hands and welcoming more then 20,000 guests over the three days. But in another first for spring commencement, all baccalaureate candidates will wear gowns made from 100 percent recycled materials.
M. Brian Blake
Kicking off the three-day celebration, M. Brian Blake, UM’s outgoing vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, will deliver the week’s first commencement address at the Graduate Degree ceremony on Thursday, May 7, when 875 students—the largest number to date—are slated to walk the stage for their hard-earned doctorate or master’s degrees. The ceremony begins at 4 p.m.
A computer scientist, software engineer, and researcher, Blake is nationally recognized as much for his efforts to diversify the computing profession and graduate education as he is for his extensive research and accomplishments in the areas of adaptive workflow and software-as-a-service on the Web. This summer, he will assume the position of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Drexel University.
Ana Mari Cauce
Before and after Buffett’s Friday appearance, which will be open to ticketed guests only, two distinguished alumni will share their advice at the other two undergraduate ceremonies on May 8. Ana Mari Cauce, the interim president of the University of Washington, will be the featured speaker at the 8:30 a.m. exercise, when, in the largest undergraduate ceremony, 815 students from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Division of Continuing and International Education are slated to cross the stage.
A clinical psychologist whose research focuses on adolescent development, the Cuban-born Cauce grew up in Miami and earned her A.B. in 1977 from UM, where she majored in English and psychology. In recognition of her long record of academic leadership and commitment to expanding educational opportunities and social justice for all, particularly at-risk youths, she will also receive an honorary degree, a Doctor of Humane Letters.
Another distinguished alumnus, UM Trustee Carlos de la Cruz, Sr., a business icon, community leader, and philanthropist, will share his advice at the final undergraduate ceremony, at 5 p.m., when 637 students from the School of Business Administration and College of Engineering celebrate their graduation.
Carlos de la Cruz, Sr.
A 1979 graduate of the School of Law, de la Cruz has spent most of his illustrious career perfecting the art of the deal, and collecting works of art from around the globe, and sharing them with the world. He is chairman of the board for CC1 Companies, Inc., a $1 billion-a-year business that includes Coca-Cola Puerto Rico Bottlers, CC1 Beer Distributors, Inc., Coca-Cola Bottlers Trinidad & Tobago, and Florida Caribbean Distillers, LLC, and, with his wife, the driving force behind the de la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space in Miami’s Design District. Home to their personal collection, the gallery offers lectures, workshops, and scholarships, and is open to thousands of visitors, including more than 11,000 public school students annually.