Info for Students
All graduates must arrive at the venue no later than 9:30 a.m. for check-in, portrait photograph session, and line-up in preparation for the ceremony.
Doors will open up at 10:15 a.m. for guests of the ceremony.
Graduation will begin promptly at 11 a.m.
A professional photographer will be present to take a studio portrait of each graduate before the ceremony and photographs of each graduate receiving their diploma from President Hagerty. Family and friends are welcome to take pictures with their graduates before and after the ceremony.
If you are looking for hotel accommodations, the Brownwood Hotel & Spa has set up a room block just for Beacon’s graduation. Make your reservation online at Brownwood Hotel & Spa (travelclick.com). Or call the hotel directly at 352-626-1246, and ask for the Beacon College Graduation block.
These nearby hotels also offer Beacon College rates.
Honorary Doctorate Recipients
At commencement, we are humbled to honor movers and shakers who have made a difference and personify the mission and values of Beacon College through the recognition of an Honorary Doctorate degree. The honorary doctorate is routinely regarded as the highest form of recognition a university can bestow.
2023 Honorary Degree Recipient: Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
A distinguished scientist and author, Grandin notably transformed the design of livestock facilities helping to eliminate pain and fear from the slaughtering process. Diagnosed with autism at a young age, her parents fought doctors’ advice to place her in an institution and instead enrolled her in private school education, nurturing her IQ.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College and then continued her education with a master’s degree and a doctorate in animal science from Arizona State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, respectively. She has authored more than 400 scientific journals on livestock practices and over 25 books on autism.
Today, she teaches courses on livestock behavior and facility design at Colorado State University and consults with the livestock industry on facility design, livestock handling, and animal welfare. Her awards and distinctions include inductions into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, being named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” the Difference Maker Award from the PBS TV show A World of Difference: Embracing Neurodiversity, and an award-winning 2010 HBO biopic, Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes.
Past Honorary Degree Recipients
2011: Bambi Lockman
Former chief of the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services in the Florida Department of Education
2012: Dr. Alexa Posny
Former assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services and former director of the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs
2013: Dr. John M. Hutchinson
Former interim president of Beacon College
2016: Rep. Daniel A. Webster
2017: Sen. Tom Harkin
Former U.S. Senator and architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act
2018: Sheikha Jameela Al-Qasimi
Director general of Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (United Arab Emirates)
2018: Sen. Andrew and Camille Gardiner
Former Florida State Senate President and disability advocates
2019: Dr. Charles Vert Willie
Professor of education, emeritus, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
2019: James T. Brett
National disability advocate and former Massachusetts legislator
2021: Dr. Marsha Glines
Beacon College founding president
2022: Jhillika Kumar
A social impact entrepreneur, diversity and inclusion community builder, and advocate for disability empowerment
2022: Dr. Harold “Hackie” Reitman
Dr. Harold “Hackie” Reitman, founder of Different Brains/PCE Media, where he leads and mentors neurodivergent interns over the age of 18, providing opportunities to develop social and job skills as well as tools to maximize their potential and independence