Florida State to hold fall commencement Dec. 13, 14

Nearly 2,700 students will graduate from Florida State University this fall. (FSU Photography Services)

An accomplished chemist who has helped steer the direction of chemical and biological research at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and the first Ethiopian-born person to serve as a judge in the United States will be the featured speakers at Florida State University’s fall commencement ceremonies.

FSU Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Timothy Cross will address graduates at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, and the Honorable Nina Ashenafi-Richardson will speak at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. FSU President John Thrasher will preside over both ceremonies, which will take place at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St.

Nearly 2,700 students will graduate this fall. Of that number, 1,989 will receive bachelor’s degrees, 587 will receive master’s/specialist degrees and 99 will receive doctorates. FSU’s Office of the Registrar estimates about 1,900 students will participate in the two ceremonies.

2019-2020 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Timothy Cross and the Honorable Nina Ashenafi-Richardson will be the featured speakers at FSU's 2019 Fall Commencement.
2019-2020 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Timothy Cross and the Honorable Nina Ashenafi-Richardson will be the featured speakers at FSU’s 2019 Fall Commencement.

Cross is FSU’s 2019-2020 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor, the highest honor given by FSU faculty members to one of their own. He has spent 34 years at Florida State, building an impressive research portfolio by using sensitive magnetic spectroscopy to understand the function of proteins in the membranes of the influenza A virus and the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

He’s also been an integral part of the team at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory since working on the original proposal to bring the lab to FSU. He serves as the program director of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility.

Cross has authored 234 peer-reviewed articles and has brought in more than $41 million in research dollars to Florida State. He has mentored 44 undergraduates, 38 graduate students and 25 postdoctoral scholars while at FSU.

As the featured speaker at Friday evening’s ceremony, Cross will address graduates of the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Communication and Information, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Education, Fine Arts, Law, Medicine and Social Work.

Ashenafi-Richardson, an alumna of the FSU College of Law, has served as a judge in the Leon County Court system since 2008. She has received numerous honors for her service by both bench and bar, including the 2019 Distinguished Judicial Service Award presented by the Florida Supreme Court and The Florida Bar, which recognizes outstanding and sustained service to the public, especially as it relates to support of pro bono legal services.

In addition to the demands of her criminal and civil court docket, Ashenafi-Richardson serves several judicial programs, organizations and committees, including the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee and the Judicial Management Committee. She enjoys giving back to her community by serving on many civic boards, including the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Whole Child Leon, Leon County Schools’ Foundation and Goodwood Museum.

Ashenafi-Richardson will be the featured speaker at Saturday morning’s ceremony. She will address graduates of the following colleges and schools: Applied Studies, Business, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, Hospitality, Human Sciences, Motion Picture Arts, Music, Nursing, Social Science and Public Policy and The Graduate School.

A livestream of both ceremonies will be available here.

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

• The College of Medicine School of Physician Assistant Practice will hold a graduation ceremony for its 37-member inaugural class at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, in Opperman Music Hall. Elyse Watkins, DHSc, associate professor at the University of Lynchburg, will be the featured speaker.

• The College of Social Work will host a reception for its fall graduates and their families from 9-11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 13, in the Oglesby Union Ballrooms, 75 North Woodward Ave. Two speakers will address graduates: Cassidy Lewis, BSW spring 2019 graduate, and alumna Allyce Heflin (MSW, ’05), deputy director of finance and operations at the Florida Office of Early Learning.

• The College of Nursing will hold its pinning ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, in Opperman Music Hall, Kuersteiner Music Building, 114 N. Copeland St. The college will award 21 Accelerated Bachelor of Science nursing degrees and one Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Interim Dean Laurie Grubbs will preside and the keynote address will be delivered by alumna and faculty member Lauren Kendall.