JU bestows 913 degrees at Saturday Commencement

May 3 • 1284 Views • View Comments

Share Button

Ask the big questions, find the right balance,
commencement speaker Armen Keteyian tells JU graduates

Enjoy this day – but then take some time to ask the big questions of yourself as you plunge forward in life.

That was some of the spirited advice 11-time Emmy Award-winning journalist Armen Keteyian gave graduates Saturday, May 3, as Jacksonville University awarded more than 900 degrees at its 2014 spring commencement ceremony at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville.

“Remember …  the importance of balance as you find answers to ‘Who am I?’, ‘What do I want to be?’ and ‘How do I get there?,’” the keynote speaker said. “Hopefully, when you do get there, wherever there is for you, you will … when asked, give back to the place that helped you grow up.”

The event was held at First Baptist rather than JU’s traditional outdoor commencement setting on campus because of the likelihood of inclement weather and an expected historically high attendance.

The celebration featured the awarding of the first doctoral degrees in JU’s 80-year history: seven students received their Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. Among them were Mary Blade, who shared the day with her daughter, Taylor Blade, as she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Of the total 887 JU spring 2014 graduates, who earned 913 degrees, 359 received bachelor of nursing degrees; 88 received masters of nursing degrees; 31 received master of business administration degrees; and 99 graduated with Latin honors, which are earned by students with a minimum GPA of 3.50 with 60 graded credits at JU. In addition, 16 students graduated with their bachelor’s degree and earned University Honors — the largest group in years.

JU President Tim Cost praised the graduates, who gained their educations during an unprecedented era of growth and improvement in the campus’ grounds, facilities, faculty and programs. Highlights of the past academic year alone include:

  • Educating the largest student body in University history — more than 4,200;
  • A successful 10-year re-accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS);
  • A Charter Day celebration of JU’s 80th anniversary, with dedication of the newly renovated River House campus gathering spot and a “Global Toast” shared by hundreds of alumni worldwide;
  • Earning a top 1% rank among all Florida colleges for “Return on Investment” for graduates;
  • Near-completion of the new College of Health Sciences building, on-schedule for August 2014;
  • A No. 14 global ranking for JU’s MBA program, achieving a Tier One spot in CEO Magazine’s prestigious listing of “value”; and
  • More than $1.2 million in research grants awarded to the JU College of Health Sciences, with much of it to help veterans in JU’s Nursing program.

“You have excelled and made us proud,” Cost told the students. “You have made your university better than you found it — a high compliment. Congratulations on reaching excellence on your journey. Today is about you and your accomplishments.”

Keteyian, lead correspondent for “60 Minutes Sports,” a reporter for “60 Minutes” and one of the preeminent journalists of his generation, has covered in-depth news and sports issues for media outlets such as CBS News, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, ABC News, HBO Sports and Showtime.

He urged the students to focus on who they are, not where they come from.

“I’ve spent my entire professional life doing what you are about to do: competing against graduates of big public universities like Alabama, Georgia or Michigan, or the most selective private schools, like Stanford, or the Ivys, for jobs and raises,” he said. “I wear my degree from San Diego State as a badge of honor, just as you should from JU. Because folks, trust me, you’ve got more than enough personal and intellectual firepower to compete against anybody. To be as good – or great – as you want to be.”

Reaching and exceeding goals has much to do with the company you keep, he reminded them, explaining how his close friendship with JU Trustee and alum Frank Pace jump-started his early career in New York.

“His best friend just happened to be a guy he met at JU named Jay Thomas, the actor, who was the top DJ in New York at the time, a precursor to Howard Stern,” Keteyian said. “Because of Frank, I was able to stay with Jay, sleep on his couch for a couple of weeks while I found an apartment and got settled. The moral of that story: remember the friends you made at this university. Frank’s best friendship with Jay, formed right here, sustained to this day, helped change my life.”

Keteyian spent time talking about hard work, discipline, taking risks and the benefits of viewing rewards only as a by-product of following your heart.

“From the time I was 23 working on a weekly newspaper in La Mesa, Calif., I’ve never felt like I had a job,” he said. “I love what I do. Even at 61, I have passion for my profession – journalism. So if you want to pursue photography or physics or politics, my advice is: Do it. And you won’t regret it.”

Cost bestowed the degrees and presented three student awards at the ceremony: the Fred B. Noble Medal to graduating student Eric Lam of Evans, Ga., for having the highest grade point average in JU’s 2014 class (4.0); the President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership to Jairid Pacileo of Albion, Penn.; and the University Award for Outstanding Service and Co-curricular Involvement to Amanda Suter of Winlock, Wash.

JU’s college and school Students of the Year are Clayton Levins, College of Arts & Sciences; Alexandra Hoffman, Davis College of Business; Ali Pordeli, College of Fine Arts; and Robert Bigley, the College of Health Sciences’ School of Nursing.

Also Saturday, Brian Palmer, associate professor of dance in the JU College of Fine Arts, was recognized as JU’s professor of the year.

The spring 2014 JU graduates hail from throughout the United States and from 17 other countries. The University’s nearly 25,000 alums come from all 50 states and 92 countries.

About Jacksonville University
Jacksonville University works to prepare each of its more than 4,200 students for lifelong success in learning, achieving, leading and serving. Its nearly 200-acre riverfront campus is just minutes from downtown Jacksonville and the Atlantic Ocean. It has been named one of “America’s Best Colleges” for 10 straight years, and ranks in the top 1% among all Florida colleges for Return on Investment for its graduates. With a 12 to 1 student-faculty ratio and full-time faculty percentage of 80 percent, it offers small class sizes, inviting campus grounds and engaged faculty and staff in a setting that promotes community, ambition and responsibility. JU has nearly 190 full-time faculty and offers more than 70 majors, programs and concentrations. Additionally, it offers graduate degrees in business, choreography, education leadership, marine science, mathematics, nursing, orthodontics and speech-language pathology. JU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI) and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


ARMEN KETEYIAN, 61, an 11-time Emmy Award winner, is the lead correspondent for “60 Minutes Sports” on Showtime and a contributing correspondent for CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” Previously the chief investigative correspondent for CBS News from 2006-12, he is recognized as one of the preeminent journalists of his generation, covering in-depth news and sports issues for such esteemed media outlets as CBS News, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, ABC News, HBO Sports and Showtime.

Over the last four decades, Mr. Keteyian has produced thousands of stories, with national award-winning coverage of vital topics that include unflinching accounts for CBS News on rape in America, identity theft and the high rate of veteran suicide. A powerful voice on ethics, integrity and abuse of power, his landmark sports investigations have delved into such issues as Title IX, gender equity, discrimination in the NFL, AIDS in athletics, sports gambling, and the widening use of steroids in sports.

In addition, he has authored or co-authored 10 books, including most recently the instant New York Times bestseller “The System,” a groundbreaking book on big-time college football; the critically acclaimed “Money Players: Days and Nights Inside the New NBA”; the New York Times bestseller “Raw Recruits”; and moving autobiographies of baseball great Catfish Hunter and actor/comedian George Lopez.

From 1997-2006, Mr. Keteyian was a special features reporter for CBS Sports, while contributing to the network’s coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship and Final Four, and hosting CBS Sports’ coverage of the Tour de France. He was a featured correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel during that same time period, and again from 2010-2012, and co-produced and co-wrote “A City on Fire: The Story of the ’68 Detroit Tigers,” a 2002 documentary aired as part of HBO’s “Sports of the 20th Century” series.

From 1989-97, Mr. Keteyian was a correspondent for ABC News in New York, for which he reported and wrote more than 400 stories for “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings,” Nightline and other ABC News broadcasts. Prior to that, he was a writer-reporter for Sports Illustrated in New York (1982-89), where he specialized in investigations, including corruption in college football and point-shaving scandals. He began his journalism career as a sports and feature writer in San Diego, freelancing for the San Diego Union-Tribune and San Diego Magazine (1980-82) after spending two years at the Times-Advocate in Escondido (1978-80).

Mr. Keteyian graduated cum laude from San Diego State University in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and was a starting infielder on the university’s baseball team. Born and raised in Michigan, he now lives with his wife, Dede, in Fairfield, Conn.

Armen Keteyian, Chief Investigative Correspondent for 60Minutes Sports for Showtime  Photo: John Paul Filo/CBS © 2012 CBS Television Network. All Rights Reserved.

Emmy Award-winning journalist Armen Keteyian

Photo credit: John Filo, CBS


Mr. Keteyian with JU President Tim Cost

(Photo courtesy JU)


JU’s first Doctor of Nursing Practice recipients

(Photo courtesy JU)


(Photo courtesy JU)


Leave a Comment