Fall commencement set for Dec. 12 and 13

Louise Jones Gopher

Florida State University will confer an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Louise Jones Gopher, a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and noted champion of education, during fall commencement ceremonies, which will take place Dec. 12 and 13.

Gopher is the third member of the Tribe to be so honored by the university. Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, the first female chief of the Tribe, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 1994.Jim Shore,General Counsel of the Tribe,received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2005.

About 1,800 of the more than 2,600 graduating students will participate in one of two ceremonies, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, and 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St. FSU President John Thrasher will preside over both ceremonies. Webcasts of the commencement ceremonies can be viewed here.

World-renowned nuclear physicist Mark A. Riley, Florida State’s Raymond K. Sheline Professor of Physics and 2014-2015 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, will be the featured speaker at the Friday ceremony. He will address the graduates of the colleges of Arts and Sciences; Communication and Information; Criminology and Criminal Justice; Fine Arts (formerly Visual Arts, Theatre and Dance); Law; Medicine; Motion Picture Arts; and Social Sciences and Public Policy.

A giant in the field of low-energy nuclear structure, Riley has distinguished himself as a researcher who combines technical expertise to produce the highest quality experimental data with theoretical knowledge to extract meaning from the data to establish new information in the field of nuclear physics.

Gopher will be the featured speaker during the Saturday ceremony after she receives her honorary doctorate. She will address the graduates of the colleges of Applied Studies; Business; Education; Engineering; Human Sciences; Music; Nursing; and Social Work; and The Graduate School.

A champion of education for the members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Gopher also has been a proponent of the preservation of the Tribe’s culture and traditions and an ardent friend of the university.

Gopher played a significant role in creating the university’s groundbreaking course, “History of the Seminoles and Southeastern Tribes, Pre-Contact to Present,” which was first offered in 2006. In addition, she has been a convincing advocate for the university’s continued use of the Seminole name and symbols.

Each year, the FSU Honorary Degree Committee, an advisory committee appointed by the president to represent the university community, considers nominations for an honorary degree. Any active or retired faculty member, member of the university community or friend of the university may suggest potential honorary degree recipients to the committee.

Nominations are considered at any time of the year. In general, the committee intends to honor people of outstanding achievement who have gained national or international recognition or made a significant scholarly, creative, public, business or humane contribution to the United States or to Florida State University.

In addition to the commencement ceremonies, other graduation activities include the following:

  • The College of Social Work will host a reception for graduating students and their families from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, in Miller Hall, C3300 University Center. Social Work Dean Nicholas Mazza will preside. Carol Edwards of Big Bend Community Based Care and student Christopher Collins will address the graduates: 22 receiving the Bachelor of Social Work degree and 60 receiving the Master of Social Work degree.
  • The Army ROTC program will commission cadet Brent Beeman as a second lieutenant at 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12, in Harpe-Johnson Hall, 2nd floor, 103 Varsity Way. Army Lt. Col. Clinton D. Alexander, the Seminole Battalion’s commander, will preside.