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FAU Celebrates Summer Commencement

            BOCA RATON, FL (August 4, 2009) - Florida Atlantic University conferred more than 1,600 degrees during three commencement ceremonies held today in the Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.  The new graduates join more than 111,000 alumni who have graduated from FAU since the university opened its doors in 1964.

            The commencement exercises also served as the last to be presided over by FAU President Frank T. Brogan, as he will soon be taking his new position as chancellor of Florida’s State University System.        “I preside over today’s commencement exercises with bittersweet emotions,” said Brogan. “Commencement is one of my favorite events as president, as it is the culmination of all the hard work of the students and the faculty that helped them to achieve this ultimate goal.  It is also a wonderful opportunity for the extended FAU family to celebrate the great accomplishments of these graduates and I will greatly miss being a part of this.”

            During the 5 p.m. commencement ceremony, Dr. Frances Haithcock, the chancellor of public schools for the Florida Department of Education (DOE), received the President’s Distinguished Service Medallion. Haithcock started with the DOE in January 2008, and has more than 30 years of experience in Florida’s educational system, including six years as deputy superintendent and six years as North Area superintendent for Broward County Public Schools.  She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, a master of education degree from FAU and a doctorate in education from the University of Miami.

Summer commencement also highlighted the accomplishments of several outstanding graduates, including:

  •  Christie Gonzalez, 34, is the first member of her family to graduate with a degree in higher education.  After experimenting with different career paths for 10 years, Gonzalez decided to follow her dream of becoming a veterinarian.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology today from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and will continue in FAU’s master’s program studying sea turtles under the mentorship of Dr. Jeanette Wyneken.
  •  David Brunell, 48, was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in 1996 and given three to five years to live. After spending five years working with doctors and different therapies, Brunell beat the odds and the CML went into remission.  It was this life-changing experience that led this two-time electrical engineering FAU graduate to change paths and pursue a career in drug discovery to help save lives. Brunell received a Ph.D. in integrative biology and biochemistry today from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

FAU’s graduating class included 54 graduates who were over the age of 50.  The oldest graduate was 65, and the youngest three graduates were 20.  The graduates represented 46 countries.

            For the convenience of family members and friends who could not attend the commencement ceremonies, the proceedings were cybercast at


Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serv es more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses strategically located along 150 miles of Florida's southeastern coastline. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts ten colleges:  College of Architecture, Urban & Public Affairs, Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science, the Barry Kaye College of Business, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Graduate College,  the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.  

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