Commencement History

The University of South Floridaís first Commencement was in 1963, where 325 degrees were conferred. The first Honorary Doctoral degree was actually presented years earlier, on September 26, 1960 during the opening convocation of the university.

The following is a timeline of USF Commencement:

September 26, 1960

First Honorary Degree presented to George R. Cooley during opening convocation of the university. The next Honorary Degree would not be presented until 1969.


1st graduation: 325 degrees conferred.

June 14, 1970

Edith Green, former member of the Florida House of Representatives, is the first woman to receive an Honorary Degree from USF, receiving an Honorary Doctor of Law.

June 13, 1971

John Allen (USFís first President) receives Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. His wife, Grace Allen would later receive a Doctor of Humane Letters on October 18, 1996.


Presidentís Distinguished Citizen award created. Awarded that year to Tommy Howard and Terrell Sessums.


Presidentís Fellow Medallion award created. Presented in Fall to Jane Cook.

April 21, 1999

New academic mace is unveiled during a retiring faculty celebration event. Mace was designed by Harrison Covington.

February 23, 2000

USF Presidential regalia debuts with the inauguration of President Judy Genshaft. Her robe is the first institutional regalia for a USF President.


Regalia developed and introduced for Board of Trustee members.

December 13, 2003

100th Honorary Degree from USF presented to Delia Sanchez, Doctor of Humanities.

May 1, 2004

Third ceremony added to Tampa campus.

May 7, 2005

First Graduate ceremony held, just for Doctoral, Educational Specialists, and Masters students. 485 graduates attend. Special program printed just for graduate ceremony.

August 13, 2005

Two Commencement ceremonies now held at the Tampa campus in Summer.

May 6, 2006

During 50th anniversary celebration, university debuts institutional doctoral regalia. Also debuts new Presidentís Chain of Office, worn by President Judy Genshaft and engraved with the names of USFís former presidents.

December 16, 2006

Inaugural Presidentís Global Leadership award presented to Nava Ben-Zvi, President of Hadassa College, Israel.

May 3, 2007

Institutional regalia for Campus Executive Officers/Vice Presidents over autonomous programs debuts with Stephen Klasko, College of Medicine Commencement. At this time, only the College of Medicine VP and Regional Chancellor of USF St. Petersburg have the regalia.

December 15, 2007

Went to three ceremonies for Fall, debuting a graduate ceremony at 6 p.m. Ceremonies are now at 9 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. for Fall. Introduced institutional regalia for the Alumni representative, first worn by Michele Norris, Alumni Association President-Elect.

May 2, 2008

Added a fourth ceremony to Tampa campus. Ceremonies are now Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

December 13, 2009

USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Arthur Guilford debuts institutional regalia at their ceremony, after being named their first Regional Chancellor.

August 6, 2011

First USF System Commencement where graduates from each USF institution were recognized separately.

May 4, 2012

Added a fifth ceremony to the Tampa campus. Ceremonies are now Friday at 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.