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Bethune-Cookman University Welcomes Honored Guests to 2008 Commencement Ceremonies

April 3, 2008 

On April 19, 2008, Bethune-Cookman University will welcome a number of honored guests participating in this year’s Commencement Ceremony as guest speakers and honorary degree recipients. These are

• Cicely Tyson, actress. Ms. Tyson will deliver a commencement address and receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Throughout her career, Ms. Tyson has performed in roles that challenge stereotypes and raise the consciousness of audiences to our common humanity. Her work has been recognized with awards including an Oscar nomination, multiple Emmy’s, as well as awards from The National Council of Negro Women, PUSH, SOLO, CORE, The Martin Luther King Center, and a record thirteen Image awards from the NAACP. She has served as World Ambassador for UNICEF and is deeply involved in improving the lives of young people.

• Earl Graves, business leader. Mr. Graves will deliver a commencement address and receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. He is the founder and publisher of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine and a nationally recognized authority on black business development. BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine is a tremendously successful publication with a readership of more than 3.9 million. In 2002, Fortune magazine named Graves one of the 50 most powerful and influential African Americans in corporate America. He is also a staunch supporter of HBCU’s and the opportunities made available through higher education.

• Hon. Joyce Cusack, Florida state representative. Representative Cusack will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. First elected in 2000 to represent Florida’s 27th district, she was voted by her colleagues to serve as Democratic Leader pro tempore in 2006. A registered nurse by training, she has long been a champion for children and families in the areas of health care, education and equal opportunity.

• Irving Matthews, business leader and chair of B-CU Board of Trustees. Mr. Matthews will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. He is the founder and CEO of Matthews Automotive Group which operates three car dealerships in Central Florida. According the June 2007 issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE magazine, the company is the seventh largest black-owned business in Florida and the 23rd largest black-owned auto dealership in the nation. Prior to founding his company in 1991, Matthews spent 14 years in various management positions at Proctor &Gamble. He has served on the B-CU Board of Trustees since October 2002 and as chairman since 2005.

This year’s commencement, which will be held at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, FL, holds special significance as the first four-year class graduation of Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed’s tenure as president. These four years have seen a number of significant accomplishments including launch of the school’s first master’s degree program and achievement of University status, a 74% increase in its endowment, record-breaking student enrollment, and the construction of new facilities such as the Center for Civic Engagement and L. Gale Lemerand School of Nursing building.

Office of Institutional Advancement

Liz Poston
PH: 386-481-2950

About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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