Chapel Hill News

May 9, 2014

Nearly 6,000 to graduate from Carolina this weekend

This year marks the inaugural spring commencement weekend of UNC’s first female chancellor, Carol L. Folt.

This year marks the inaugural spring Commencement weekend of UNC’s first female chancellor, Carol L. Folt.

On Friday, Folt marked the event by hand-signing the diplomas of four first-generation college students. The four students represent the 671 first-generation undergraduate students who applied for graduation. These students received the only hand-signed diplomas by Folt.

On Saturday morning graduate students, including those who earned their Ph.D.s in the past academic year rather than just in the spring semester, will come to the Smith Center stage to have the hood of the commencement regalia conferred by their advisers or dissertation committee chairs and to hear speaker Timothy Beatley, a pioneering researcher in the field of “green urbanism” and sustainability.

A Carolina alumnus, Beatley is the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning within the University of Virginia's School of Architecture. He received his doctorate in city and regional planning and his master's degree in political science from UNC-Chapel Hill, his master's degree in urban planning from the University of Oregon and his bachelor's degree in city planning from UVA.

Beatley has written or co-written more than 15 books on topics as diverse as nature's influence in sustaining a high quality of community life and workable approaches toward reducing the ecological “footprint” in cities and towns. The American Planning Association has recognized his book Ethical Land Use as one of its “100 Essential Books in Planning.”

Commencement for undergraduates begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday in Kenan Stadium (rain or shine).

Commencement is for students completing degree work this spring or summer. The official number of graduates is not yet available, as not all grades have been recorded or students cleared for graduation. The university registrar estimates that 5,991 students will graduate this weekend: 3,730 with bachelor’s, 1,423 with master’s, 217 with doctoral and 621 with professional degrees. The last are from the schools of dentistry, law, medicine, nursing and pharmacy.

Dr. Atul Gawande, a celebrated surgeon and best-selling author, will deliver Sunday’s commencement address.

Gawande practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He is professor in the department of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health and professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.

An accomplished surgeon, a successful writer, and a popular and dynamic speaker, Gawande offers audiences a unique perspective on the practice of medicine. He encourages incremental reforms that build on the strengths and limitations of the current health-care system, and speaks on how to improve care and lower costs. He is the lead adviser for the World Health Organization’s Safe Surgery Lives Program, and is the founder and chairman of Lifebox, an international not-for-profit that implements systems and technologies to reduce surgical deaths globally.

During the ceremony, an honorary doctor of science degree will be awarded to Gawande.

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