Nearly 8,000 students are expected to graduate from the University of Central Florida during six commencement ceremonies May 5-7 at CFE Arena.

The ceremonies will be:

  • 9 a.m. Thursday, May 5 – College of Arts & Humanities, College of Engineering & Computer Science and College of Optics & Photonics.
  • 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 5 – College of Health & Public Affairs.
  • 9 a.m. Friday, May 6 – College of Sciences.
  • 2:30 p.m. Friday, May 6 – College of Education and Human Performance, and College of Nursing.
  • 9 a.m. Saturday, May 7 – College of Business Administration.
  • 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7 – College of Graduate Studies, College of Medicine, College of Undergraduate Studies and Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
  • Doors open at the arena for graduates and guests 90 minutes before the ceremonies, and guests are encouraged to arrive early enough to find parking and a seat. The procession of graduates into the arena begins 20 minutes before the start of the ceremony, which last about two hours.

    Of the 7,961 students who filed an intent to graduate, there are 6,679 seeking bachelor’s degrees, 1,122 master’s degrees, 20 education specialist degrees, 12 educational doctoral degrees, 91 Ph.D.s, 33 Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees, and four Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees.

    Including these expected graduations, UCF will have awarded 294,345 degrees since the university began offering classes in 1968.

    Every guest attending the ceremonies, including children and infants, must have a ticket to enter the arena. Tickets are available from graduates. Those without tickets may view a live telecast via closed circuit television at the FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, Student Union and on Campus Cable Channel 21. Parking for guests will be available in garages C, D and H.

    Commencement Speakers

    The Thursday morning speaker will be Charles Gray, who also will receive an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. Gray is the founding partner and chairman of the GrayRobinson law firm, which has 300 attorneys in 13 Florida offices. Gray’s leadership has played a pivotal role in Central Florida’s development. In 1977, he became Orange County attorney to assist in all aspects of the planning, construction, and financing of the Orange County Convention Center. Using innovative methods and financing, he also developed a modern wastewater-treatment and potable-water program for our area. Gray served as the governor’s liaison to The Walt Disney Company during its acquisition of 27,000 acres for Walt Disney World. He has also chaired the Florida Turnpike Authority, and he served two terms as chairman of the Economic Development Commission of Mid-Florida. Gray has been a long-time friend to UCF. His influence led to the funding and the site location in Orange County of Florida Technological University, which became UCF. He served on the UCF Foundation Board of Directors from 1985 to 2001 and was chair from 1990-91, and he and his wife, Saundra, have supported a variety of UCF projects. Gray holds bachelor’s and Juris Doctor’s degrees from the University of Florida.

    The Thursday afternoon speaker will be Ida Cook, who retired last year from the UCF faculty after 40 years of impressive service to her university, profession and community. During her long career, she influenced the lives of numerous students, faculty and staff members, and Central Florida citizens. Cook joined UCF in 1976 as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Since then, she has helped thousands of students to overcome their fear of research methods in sociology, and she also became a master online teacher. Her research and publication accomplishments include studies of bullying, alcoholism and instructional evaluation. She was interim director for the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning. She served on the Faculty Senate for 35 years and chaired that body for nine. She was a member of the UCF Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2013, and served on the Oviedo City Council for two terms and on the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council. Cook’s studies in sociology include a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, a master’s degree from Florida State University, and a doctoral degree from North Carolina State University.

    The Friday morning speaker is Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who oversees the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and serves as a member of Florida’s Cabinet. Previously, Putnam served five terms in the U.S. House of Representatives for Florida’s 12th Congressional District. In that role, he was acknowledged for his efforts to bring comprehensive restoration to the Everglades, reform food-safety laws, modernize programs to advance Florida’s agriculture, and increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables to counter childhood obesity. Putnam was elected Republican policy chairman during the 109th Congress and chairman of the House Republican Conference for the 110th Congress, the highest elected leadership position any Floridian of either party has held in Washington. Putnam graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in food and resource economics.

    The Friday afternoon speaker is Tina Calderone, former chairwoman of the Central Florida School Boards Coalition, which represents 13 school districts with more than a million students. She was elected to the Seminole County School Board in 2010 and served as chairman in 2011-12 and 2014-15. Calderone has been an administrator at Stetson University and the University of Florida, and held management positions at The Kirchman Corp. and Newtrend. During her tenure as the executive director of The Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools, she raised more than $4 million for students and teachers. Calderone has been on the boards of many organizations, including America’s Charities, Florida Hospital Altamonte Foundation and Progress Energy-UCF Educational Leadership. She has been recognized with the “Women Who Mean Business” award from the Orlando Business Journal, “Chamber Member of the Year” award from the Greater Seminole County Chamber of Commerce and the “Outstanding Achievement in Education” award from the Women’s Executive Council. Calderone earned a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and both a master’s degree in educational administration and a doctoral degree in educational leadership from the University of Florida.

    The Saturday morning speaker is John Skipper, who also will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Skipper is president of ESPN and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. Skipper has been an industry leader in providing high-quality sports and entertainment to viewers on television, mobile devices and online. His early career was with Rolling Stone magazine, and in the 1990s he served as vice president of Disney Magazine publishing before becoming general manager of ESPN The Magazine. Skipper regularly appears on media and cable industry “most influential” lists, including those in Sports Business Journal, Business Week, and The Sporting News. He is an advocate for addressing social justice through sport, and has established an exclusive ESPN executive-in-residence initiative for the UCF Sport Business Management Program, as well as hosting UCF students at ESPN headquarters and participating in several UCF DeVos Distinguished Speakers Series. Skipper holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from the University of North Carolina and Columbia University, respectively.

    The Saturday afternoon speaker is Dr. Clarence H. Brown III, a nationally recognized physician and health leader. He is a professor of medicine at the UCF College of Medicine and has served on the UCF Board of Trustees since 2013. Brown was a Howard Hughes Research Fellow at the Baylor College of Medicine and Hematology. He was the founding medical director of MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, and in 1997 he became the center’s president and chief executive officer. Named as the president of the Orange County Medical Society in 1988, Brown has also been the medical director of the Hemophilia Association of Orlando and Hospice of Central Florida. He is past-chairman of the board of directors of the Orlando Health Foundation. Former Gov. Jeb Bush appointed him chairman of the Florida Cancer Research and Advisory Council. Brown was named one of the “Best Doctors in America” from 1996 to 2010 and cited as one of the 25 most influential leaders in health care in Central Florida in 1998. He has been generous with both his time and his resources in support of UCF. Brown earned a bachelor’s degree and a doctor of medicine degree from Emory University.

    As a reminder, students must complete the First Destination Survey, which can be found on the to-do list within the MyUCF portal, to be cleared for graduation. Additional information about commencement can be found at