Class of 2022: UTC to Host Commencement Ceremonies Friday and Saturday


Spring commencement at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga will be celebrated with five separate ceremonies and approximately 1,500 degrees awarded over two days starting on Friday, May 6.

All ceremonies will take place inside McKenzie Arena, beginning with graduate commencement when recipients of advanced degrees will be honored at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, May 6. On Saturday, May 7, a series of undergraduate ceremonies begins at 9 a.m. and concludes with the final ceremony at 7 p.m.

The series of separate ceremonies is necessary because of temporarily reduced capacity due to construction of the Wolford Family Athletic Center addition to the arena.

Guests are encouraged to park vehicles in parking lots 32, 33, 34 and 31 (the Mocs Alumni Drive parking garage). Find detailed information on parking lot locations HERE.

Due to construction, McKenzie Arena capacity is reduced and tickets for admission are required of all attendees. Spring graduates may claim up to 10 tickets each through the end of classes. After classes end, graduates may request additional tickets for any additional guests.

Commencement can be watched live online via web streaming at the following links provided for each ceremony.

For more information and a list of FAQ on spring commencement ceremonies, click HERE.

This will be the 259th overall commencement for the University, which was founded in 1886 as the then-private Chattanooga University. The first UTC graduation ceremony took place Aug. 23, 1969, in the Tivoli Theater in downtown Chattanooga.

Graduate School Commencement

2:30 p.m. Friday, May 6


Speaker: Mina Sartipi, Guerry Professor of Engineering and Computer Science, Founding Director of the UTC Center for Urban Informatics and Progress

In addition to teaching in the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science and leading the University’s Center for Urban Informatics and Progress, Mina Sartipi is a scientist whose research has won funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and Department of Energy, State of Tennessee, Lyndhurst Foundation and private industry. She is an internationally recognized leader in the field of Smart City research focused on mobility, energy and health in urban environments.

In partnership with the City of Chattanooga and EPB, Sartipi has led research honored on multiple occasions by the Smart Cities Connect organization with a “Smart 50” designation as among the world’s top 50 examples of digital transformation. She is a frequent presenter on artificial intelligence and smart city operations and has given invited presentations to the U.S. Congressional Smart Cities Caucus and ​at conferences of the global Smart Cities Connect and ​the National Transportation Training Directors.

Sartipi has been a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers since 2016, and she is a member of the boards of directors for multiple startups and nonprofit organizations.

Sartipi has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, and master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Undergraduate Commencement: College of Arts and Sciences (graduates with last names beginning A-K)

9 a.m., Saturday, May 7


Speaker: Gregory O’Dea, UC Foundation Professor and Associate Dean of the Honors College

In 2022, Gregory O’Dea reached the 25-year mark in his service to UTC Honors, having held positions as director of the Brock Scholars program and associate dean of the Honors College. He joined the UTC faculty in 1990.

O’Dea is an award-winning educator and student advocate. He has been named an Outstanding Teacher by a vote of the University of Tennessee National Alumni Association (of the UT System); given the UTC Student Government Association’s Outstanding Professor award; and recognized as Outstanding Academic Advisor by UTC leadership.

O’Dea also has spent much of his career directing medical humanities workshops for the Tennessee and Georgia chapters of the American College of Physicians (ACP) and workshop sessions for annual, national conferences of the ACP. His presentations blend fiction, poetry, memoir and essay into themes directly relevant to physicians and their patients. In recognition of O’Dea’s work with the group, the national ACP honored him with its Nicholas E. Davies Memorial Scholar Award in 2016 for outstanding scholarly activities in history, literature, philosophy and ethics and contributions to humanism in medicine.

O’Dea has been a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council since 1997 and, while he is stepping down as associate dean of the Honors College, he will continue teaching foundational courses for all incoming Brock Scholars.

He has a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; a master’s degree in English language and literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC); and a doctorate in English from UNC.

Undergraduate Commencement: College of Engineering and Computer Science, Gary W. Rollins College of Business

1 p.m., Saturday, May 7


Speaker: Thomas Lyons, Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Clarence E. Harris Chair of Excellence in Entrepreneurship, Gary W. Rollins College of Business

Thomas Lyons teaches courses in marketing and entrepreneurship and is part of the leadership team for UTC’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He came to UTC in 2019 from Michigan State University in East Lansing, where he was director of the MSU Product Center, which promotes entrepreneurship in the food and beverage industries.

Lyons is a pioneering scholar in the concept of entrepreneurial communities or entrepreneurial ecosystems. His research interests are entrepreneurship skills measurement and development, the relationship between entrepreneurship and community economic development and social entrepreneurship, and he has co-authored 13 books and numerous scholarly articles and papers on these subjects.

One of his co-authored works, “Understanding Social Entrepreneurship,” is the leading textbook on the subject and is used at more than 80 universities worldwide. He also edited a three-volume set on social entrepreneurship (“Social Entrepreneurship: How Businesses Can Transform Society”).

In 2011, Lyons received the Ted K. Bradshaw Outstanding Research Award from the Community Development Society, a national nonprofit established in 1969 to strengthen community development policy, practice, learning and research through education and research.

Lyons is an entrepreneur himself and has co-founded two companies. He has a bachelor’s degree from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana; a master’s degree from Loyola University in Chicago; and a doctorate in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Undergraduate Commencement: College of Health, Education and Professional Studies

4 p.m., Saturday, May 7


Speaker: Christine Benz Smith, UC Foundation Professor, Director of the School of Nursing and UTC Chief Health Affairs Officer

Christine Benz Smith earned a master’s degree as a student in the first class of Family Nurse Practitioners at UTC. Smith had earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Vanderbilt University in Nashville and worked as the head nurse on a 60-bed orthopedic care unit at Ochsner Hospital in New Orleans before returning to Chattanooga and graduate school.

Upon graduating from UTC, Smith joined Erlanger Health System as primary provider of health care for Chattanooga’s Westside Community. When the facility closed, Smith joined UTC as the Kay Chitty Professor for the School of Nursing which afforded her the opportunity to return to Westside and her patients through an agreement with Memorial Health Care System.

She went on to earn a doctorate from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City and was named coordinator of the UTC Family Nurse Practitioner program. That appointment was followed by her designation as associate director of the School of Nursing in 2011, interim director in 2013 and director in 2014. Five years later, Chancellor Steven R. Angle also named Smith the chief health affairs officer for UTC, and it was in that role that Smith guided University protocols and decision-making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020.

Smith has served on many boards of directors for Chattanooga non-profit and educational institutions. In 2017, she was honored with a UT System President’s Award for her work in community outreach. She was named the recipient of the Carolyn and Roger G. Brown Community Engagement Award in 2019.

Undergraduate Commencement: College of Arts and Sciences (graduates with last names beginning L-Z)

7 p.m., Saturday, May 7


Speaker: Tammy Garland, Professor of Criminal Justice

Tammy Garland teaches courses on drugs and crime, victimology, juvenile justice and crime and popular culture for the UTC Department of Social, Cultural and Justice Studies.

Her research interests include popular culture and crime, juvenile bullying, drug policy issues, and victimization of women, children and the homeless.

Garland  also is a manuscript reviewer for numerous peer-reviewed journals and works as a program evaluator with multiple agencies.

She is involved in service activities at the university, community and professional levels. Garland is a member of the boards of directors for the Chattanooga Community Housing Development Organization and the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute. She works with numerous local agencies to help those in need, including the J.A. Henry YMCA and Chattanooga-based homeless organizations.

She has twice been honored—in 2011 and 2018—with the Outstanding Service Award for the UTC College of Arts and Sciences. For service to the University and community, she has received the University of Tennessee National Alumni Association (of the UT System) Public Service Award; the Dr. Carolyn Thompson and Roger Brown Community Engagement Award; and the Harold Love Outstanding Service Award.

Garland has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, a master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, and a doctorate from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

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