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Press Release for Thursday, December 6, 2007

Duke Awarded Honorary Degree/Senior Recognized for Service

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida will award an honorary degree and will honor a student with an outstanding record of volunteerism when it hands out nearly 900 degrees on Friday, Dec. 14, during fall commencement at the UNF Arena.

The University will award an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters degree to Academy Award-winning actress Patty Duke during the 7 p.m. commencement ceremony, where she will make remarks, while Lucas Snyder will be recognized as the recipient of the Senior Service Award during the 3 p.m. ceremony. The UNF Alumni Association selects a graduating senior each semester for outstanding service to the University and the community through volunteerism.

Snyder, an Intracoastal West resident, will be graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications and is well known on the UNF campus and in the community. Over the past three years, he has served the University in various capacities, including Student Government, Baptist Collegiate Ministries and the Surf Club.

As assistant director of Osprey Productions, Snyder has played an integral part in organizing campus-wide activities like Homecoming, campus concerts and weekly events. Within these organizations, he has also traveled to Nicaragua to deliver medical supplies as well as assist in constructing a well to provide a village with clean drinking water.

Snyder’s community service off the UNF campus is widespread and includes numerous projects. In 2004, he spent the summer in China, where he taught English to Chinese high school students. He has also worked with Christian Surfers United States, assisting them in planning co-sponsored events with organizations such as Life Rolls On and Surfrider Foundation.

Although the 24 year old feels that all volunteer experience is important, his most rewarding encounter was his trip to South Africa during the summer of 2006, where he helped children in orphanages, distributed food to the homeless and educated locals on AIDS prevention.

During this experience, Snyder utilized his organizational skills and truly learned the art of being a selfless leader. “Leadership demands being wise with what you are given and using it to the best of your abilities,” he said. “This trip radically changed my perspective on life and helped develop a lifelong passion for volunteerism and the sacrificing of my time for the opportunity to help others in the world.”

In addition to Snyder receiving the Senior Service Award, Duke will also receive an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters. This spring, the actress and author was in Jacksonville, speaking about mental health issues at a benefit luncheon for UNF’s Women and Girls Health Initiative. Through all of her success, she battled undiagnosed mental illness and today is an outspoken advocate for mental health.

As a child starring in her own sitcom, Duke grew up before the camera and became the youngest actress ever to win an Oscar for her role in “The Miracle Worker.” Her career has brought her to Broadway, feature films, television series and cartoons. Duke’s 72 television movies have afforded her a wide variety of roles, most notably Neely O’Hara of “Valley of the Dolls,” Martha Washington in “George Washington,” and mother of the bride in “Prelude to a Kiss.”

In addition to receiving an Oscar, Duke has received two Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, six Emmy nominations and a People’s Choice Award. She has also accepted multiple community service awards to honor her commitment to many social issues.

The ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Computing, Engineering and Construction will be held at 3 p.m. The Brooks College of Health, Coggin College of Business and the College of Education and Human Services will hold their ceremony at 7 p.m.

The University expects to award 735 bachelor’s degrees, 160 master’s degrees and three doctorates this term.