Students who have completed their bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degrees will be honored Dec. 21 during the University of Arizona's 149th commencement ceremony.

"Commencement is a time to celebrate and honor the achievements of our Wildcats," said Mary Venezia, assistant director of strategic initiatives for Enrollment Management. "Last May’s ceremony began a distinctive UA tradition of pomp and circumstance intertwined with celebration and surprises unlike a typical graduation ceremony."

That new tradition will be followed again during the fall Commencement, she said.

"Families and guests should be prepared for an experience to celebrate their student’s achievements – and students should be prepared to celebrate becoming Wildcats for Life in a very personal and unique way. They should expect the unexpected," Venezia said.<</p>

Andrew Comrie, the UA's senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, will confer degrees upon 1,725 undergraduates, 597 master's/specialist candidates, 188 doctoral students, two Master of Law graduates and three Juris Doctor students.

The commencement ceremony will be held Dec. 21 at 9 a.m. at the UA McKale Memorial Center. Doors will open at 7:30 a.m., and family and friends are asked to enter McKale through its south entrance. Students can now RSVP for their guest via a password protected site the Commencement website. Arizona Public Media will stream the ceremony live online.

The keynote address will be delivered by UA alumnus Scott Pask, a Tony Award-wining scenic and costume designer. Pask, who was born and raised in Yuma, Ariz., earned his architecture degree from the UA in 1990 before earning a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama in 1997. A three-time Tony Award winner for his work on "The Pillowman," "The Coast of Utopia" and "The Book of Mormon," Pask also earned the 1999 Lucille Lortel Award and Henry Hewes Award for his work on "The Mineola Twins" and the 2001 Bessie Award for "Verge."

Several awards will be awarded during the ceremony. Six graduating students will be presented with Centennial Awards, which are granted to those students who are first in their families to graduate and have a demonstrated record of integrity and service. These students have navigated tremendous challenges in order to achieve a higher education. The Centennial Award recipients are: Hussein Issak Magale, Marianna Yanes, Deyanira Nevarez Martinez, Kari L. Quiballo, Joel Biederman and Martina Michelle Dawley.

Two faculty members will be presented with University Distinguished Outreach Faculty Awards:S. Peder Cuneo and Sally J. Reel. Over his nearly 30-year professional career, Cuneo, a veterinary specialist, has made critically important efforts to improve the health of animals while protecting the nation’s farm animals. Reel is known as a transformational leader who has gained nationwide attention for her demonstrated scholarship-based outreach across the state and to other communities in the U.S.

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