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Press Release:


FAU Celebrates Fall Commencement

            BOCA RATON, FL (December 11, 2008) - Florida Atlantic University conferred more than 2,200 degrees on Thursday, December 11 and Friday, December 12 during five commencement ceremonies held in the Carole and Barry Kaye Auditorium at FAU’s Student Union, Boca Raton campus.  The new graduates join more than 107,000 alumni who have graduated from FAU since the university opened its doors in 1964.

            “Commencement is a wonderful opportunity for FAU’s students, faculty, staff and the extended FAU family to celebrate the great accomplishments of these graduates,” said FAU President Frank T. Brogan.  “With the tools acquired through their success at FAU, these students will have the opportunity to achieve their part of the American dream.”

During the 5 p.m. commencement ceremony on Thursday, Deborah Sharp ’79, best-selling author of the “Mace Bauer Mysteries” novels, journalist and wife of NBC News reporter Kerry Sanders, was awarded with the FAU National Alumni Association’s Alumni Hall of Fame award.  Sharp is an alumnus of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.  

FAU benefactors Marleen and Harold Forkas, who recently named FAU’s new alumni center, received the President’s Distinguished Service Medallion at the 1 p.m. commencement ceremony on Friday.

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

  • James Tobin, 24, will be the third person in FAU’s history to graduate with three degrees at one time.   Tobin, the speaker of the house for FAU’s Student Government, will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history, a Bachelor of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture.
  • Jose Flamenco, 25, will be graduating from FAU’s College of Education with a degree in secondary social science education. Flamenco, the son of immigrant parents who fled war-torn El Salvador to find a better life in Florida, was called to active duty in Iraq and served for one year in the U.S. Army prior to beginning his final semester at FAU.
  • Nicholas Rella, 43, was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure in 1990. Since then, he has undergone one kidney transplant that failed after nine months and is currently on the list to receive another new kidney. Rella, who has undergone kidney dialysis three times a week for the last 18 years, will receive his bachelor’s degree in social work from the College of Architecture, Urban and Public Affairs. A bad experience with a social worker at a dialysis treatment center was his inspiration to return to college and earn his degree, despite the struggles he faces daily.

Some interesting statistics regarding the fall graduating class include the fact that 142 of the 2,203 degree recipients were over the age of 50.  The oldest graduate was 69 and the youngest was 18.  The graduates represented 61 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 10   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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