Miles C. Collier, Chairman of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees
President Eastman; Mr. Forbes; honorary degree recipients Mr. Kennedy, Dr. Petro and Dr. West; distinguished faculty, families, and guests, and Graduates of the Class of 2009,
Yesterday afternoon the Board of Trustees ranted the awarding of (nearly) 550 bachelor's degrees to individuals who have earned their place in the Eckerd College community of scholars.
No other action that is required of the Board of Trustees brings as much pleasure and reward as the granting of degrees each May.
Also yesterday afternoon, equally gratifying, the Board granted honorary degrees to these four individuals whose lives exemplify the spirit of Eckerd College:
Mr. Steve Forbes, today's Commencement speaker, whom we now consider "one of ours" for having co-authored with Eckerd College Classics Professor John Prevas a book on leadership that will be released in June;
Professor Emeritus Tom West, who risked all in 1958 to become the founding dean of admission of Eckerd College, known then as Florida Presbyterian College, and who, for 50 years, has dedicated his service and scholarship to those enrolled first in the residential program and then those in the Program for Experienced Learners;
Dr. Jane Petro, a graduate in the Class of 1968, who is widely recognized for her work as a plastic surgeon with special attention to the care of burn patients; and
Mr. Howard Kennedy, whose remarkable story you will hear from President Eastman in a few minutes;
Graduates, the lives of these honorary degree recipients reflect the values of this great College.
As you continue your lives of leadership and service, the ensuing chapters in the College's history will tell your stories; know that we eagerly look forward to your return to your alma mater.
Congratulations and best wishes, Class of 2009!