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CONTACT: Elizabeth Bettendorf (850) 644-5929; email@example.com
By Elizabeth Bettendorf August 2012
COMPOSER AND BELOVED PROFESSOR TOMMIE WRIGHT TO PERFORM AT SUMMER COMMENCEMENT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — He’s both a scholar and a school patriot; he wrote the “FSU Fight Song” and taught tens of thousands of students to appreciate the joys of music.
Professor Thomas G. “Tommie” Wright, who joined the Florida State University faculty in 1949 and has performed concerts with respected symphony orchestras around the world, will deliver the address at Florida State’s summer commencement the way he knows best:
Playing the piano.
A gifted musician, Wright will perform for graduating students at the summer ceremony, which will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. President Eric J. Barron will preside at the ceremony, which will be webcast at http://campus.fsu.edu/graduation.
Approximately 1,314 Florida State students — of the roughly 2,600 graduating this summer — will participate in the ceremony. Of those students participating, 919 will receive bachelor’s degrees, 323 will receive master’s degrees and 72 will be awarded doctorates.
Wright, who taught more than 50,000 students at Florida State, penned the ubiquitous Florida State fight song in 1950. While at the university, he established the Gershwin Festival Concerts, and over the years presented more than 400 concerts of “An Evening with Gershwin” nationwide. He also worked as a producer, musical director, guest soloist and staff pianist for the major radio networks in New York City, which then aired popular music shows across the country.
From the earliest days of television, Wright was intrigued with the idea of using the new medium to educate viewers. He served on a gubernatorial task force that created the Florida Educational Network. Wright, who was the first person to present live broadcasts on that network, expanded his communications expertise into academia and for more than a decade directed Florida State’s Interdivisional Department of Radio-Television (which later became the College of Communication). He was also instrumental in the planning and construction of the WFSU-TV public television station.
In recognition of his many contributions, the Florida Legislature proclaimed April 14, 2003, “Professor Thomas Wright Day,” and in 2008 Wright retired from Florida State.
In addition to his much-anticipated commencement performance on Aug. 11, Wright will be awarded an honorary doctorate of music at the ceremony — the ultimate declaration that he is a true Florida State treasure.
Also at the commencement ceremony, Naresh S. Dalal will be recognized as the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry for the 2012-2013 academic year. A world-renowned physical chemist, Dalal is the Dirac Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State. Dalal, who researches the workings of molecular magnets, is the 10th member of the university’s chemistry and biochemistry faculty to be selected as a Lawton Professor in the past 50 years. The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor award is the highest honor faculty can bestow on a colleague.
Prior to the ceremony, Florida State’s U.S. Army ROTC will commission four new second lieutenants at noon Friday, Aug. 10, at Harpe-Johnson Hall (the ROTC Building).