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Image featuring headshots of all four 2021 Commencement Speakers

New Look for 2021 Commencement

Jacksonville University is pleased to announce its plans and invited speakers for its 2021 Commencement ceremonies. For the first time in the school’s 87-year history, each of its four colleges will hold its own ceremony. This will allow the university to honor its graduates in person while providing an appropriate amount of space for social distancing.

In addition, the university has opened the ceremonies to the Class of 2020, which had to forego its commencement plans due to the pandemic. Each ceremony will confer doctoral, graduate and undergraduate degrees for the Class of 2021 and attendees from the Class of 2020. All will be held, per JU tradition, on the school’s beautiful oak-lined Science Green, rain or shine, and each ceremony will have its own keynote commencement speaker.

“We are honored to have such an esteemed roster of professionals joining us for this important weekend,” said Jacksonville University President Tim Cost. “We know that students, invited guests and families look forward to commencement for years, and as a university, we are doing our best to celebrate the importance of this milestone, while still incorporating the appropriate social distancing protocols.”

This year’s commencement speakers include professionals at the top of their fields in banking, health, fine arts, and government. They will address graduates and their guests over the weekend of May 8 and 9 at the following ceremonies:

Headshot of Dr. Raphael W. Bostic
President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Dr. Raphael W. Bostic
President and CEO
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Davis College of Business:  Saturday, May 8th at 9:00 a.m.
The Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University is pleased to announce Dr. Raphael W. Bostic, the 15th president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, as its 2021 Commencement speaker. Bostic, who took office June 5, 2017, is responsible for all the Bank’s activities, including monetary policy, bank supervision and regulation, and payment services. In addition, he serves on the Federal Reserve’s chief monetary policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta serves the Sixth Federal Reserve District, which covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The Bank has branches in Birmingham, Jacksonville, Miami, Nashville and New Orleans.

Headshot of Jason Barrett, President and CEO of Flagler Health+
Jason Barrett
President and CEO
Flagler Health+

Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences:  Saturday, May 8th at 3:00 p.m.
The Brooks Rehabilitation College of Healthcare Sciences is pleased to announce Jason Barrett, president and CEO of Flagler Health+, as its 2021 Commencement speaker. An expansion of Flagler Hospital, which has been caring for the residents of Northeast Florida since 1889, Flagler Health+ is a total care enterprise aimed at advancing the physical, social and economic health of area communities. Barrett is a recognized thought leader in the healthcare space with a focus on transforming healthcare experiences through innovation, personalization and value. Since joining the Flagler organization as vice president of operations in 2003, Barrett has served in a number of executive roles. His passion for healthy equity leads him to serve in numerous additional capacities, including as a member of Florida Governor Desantis’ Children and Youth Cabinet. 

Headshot of Melissa Nelson, State Attorney for Florida's Fourth Judicial Circuit
Melissa Nelson
State Attorney
Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit

College of Arts and Sciences:  Sunday May 9th at 9:00 a.m.
The College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce Melissa Nelson, state attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, as its 2021 Commencement speaker. In this role since January 2017, Nelson leads more than 300 attorneys, staff members and investigators in their pursuit of justice, and has implemented many smart justice initiatives and criminal justice reforms. She established Florida’s first Conviction Integrity Review unit, developed a driver’s license restoration program, convened the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee aimed at reducing juvenile recidivism, and engaged the office in an academic research study focused on making data-driven decisions. Each of these accomplishments reinforces her pledge to the citizens of Clay, Duval, and Nassau counties.

Headshot of Dr. Jennifer Pascual, Director of Music at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City
Dr. Jennifer Pascual
Director of Music
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City

Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts:  Sunday May 9th at 3:00 p.m.
The Linda Berry Stein College of Fine Arts is pleased to announce Class of 1992 alumna Dr. Jennifer Pascual, director of music at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, as its 2021 Commencement speaker. Appointed in 2003, Pascual is the first woman to hold this position, one of the most prestigious sacred music appointments in the United States. Pascual earned a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in organ performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N. Y., where she studied with David Higgs and taught undergraduate theory courses. She holds a Master of Music Degree in piano performance from the Mannes College of Music in New York City where she studied with Nina Svetlanova and studied organ privately with McNeil Robinson. She received the Bachelor of Music Degrees in piano and organ performance, magna cum laude, and music education from Jacksonville University in Florida where she studied with Mary Lou Wesley Krosnick and William Saunders and taught both organ and piano in the university’s Continuing Education Department.

While Jacksonville University is holding all of its 2021 Commencement ceremonies in accordance with local, state and federal guidance, the health and safety of its graduates, faculty and guests is a top priority. For this reason, the university stands ready to pivot and alter its plans should health metrics warrant. More information about commencement weekend at Jacksonville University can be found here.