Spring Speakers

University-wide Speakers

James Patterson

Bestselling author and literacy advocate

Bestselling author and literacy advocate James Patterson will serve as the guest speaker at UF's university-wide ceremony at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium set for 9 a.m. Saturday, May 4.

Patterson, a prizewinning author who has sold over 375 million books worldwide including "Alex Cross," "Women's Murder Club" and other popular titles and series, is an advocate for literacy and early childhood education who has partnered extensively with the UF College of Education to further those causes.

Patterson in 2013 established the James Patterson Teacher Education Scholarships to support 16 UF College of Education students pursuing careers as elementary or secondary school teachers. To date, these scholarships have supported 28 students.

In 2017, Patterson created the James Patterson Literacy Challenge to support UF's Literacy Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase reading proficiency among third- to fifth-graders throughout Florida.

For his sustained efforts to help children become passionate readers and for his philanthropic efforts, Patterson received the National Book Foundation's 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. He will be awarded a UF Honorary Doctorate in May.

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Paige Fitzpatrick

Student Speaker

Paige Fitzpatrick has always had a love for early childhood education, wanting to work in the field since the 10th grade. Her passion led her to the UF College of Education, where she worked at Baby Gator from the beginning of her journey. Fitzpatrick is a former James Patterson Scholar and is grateful for the award's validation of her chosen path and support of her education. Named a 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate for Unified Early Childhood Education, Fitzpatrick graduated the same year with an undergraduate degree in special education and is earning her master's degree in early childhood education. Her primary focus in early childhood education is reading instruction and intervention, which she plans to utilize in the future as a school-wide reading coach--her career goal.

Doctoral Speaker

Scott K. Powers

Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology

Scott K. Powers is the UAA Endowed Professor and a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida. Powers is a physiologist who investigates the effects of both muscular exercise and prolonged inactivity on the health of skeletal muscles and the heart.

During his 30-year research career at UF, Powers and his research team have published more than 250 peer-reviewed publications, and many of these publications are widely cited in the literature. These three decades of research have been supported by continuous extramural funding provided by numerous granting agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association.

Powers is also an accomplished teacher as supported by the fact that he has won numerous teaching awards and has been selected for membership into the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars at the University of Florida. Scott's interest in pedagogy is also illustrated by his authorship of two college textbooks on exercise physiology. Notably, Scott has also been recognized by the University of Florida as the Teacher/Scholar of the year in 2017.