Gail Miller Delivers UVU Commencement Keynote, Receives Honorary Doctorate

Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. Thanks to COVID-19, Utah Valley University’s 79th commencement and convocations were marked in a unique way on Aug. 19, 2020. 

Determined to find a way to celebrate their graduates’ educational achievements, university leaders had to think quickly and outside the box to keep commencement and graduation alive — their solution was simply genius. 

Eight simultaneous convocations (graduations) were planned in “drive-thru” style. Starting at 5 p.m., more than 1,000 UVU graduates lined up in parade-like fashion in their vehicles in campus parking lots organized by their respective colleges and schools. 

Adhering to social-distancing guidelines and other precautions, graduates exited their vehicles one at a time, stepping onto a Wolverine-green carpet in front of a UVU backdrop to receive their diplomas from their deans while their names were read over a loudspeaker. Families and friends cheered from the cars as their graduates celebrated with their degrees in hand.

UVU Board of Trustees Chair Duff Thompson highlighted the honorary degree recipients — Daniel W. Campbell, business and education leader; Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and chair of the Board of Directors of the Larry H. Miller Management Corporation; and David O. Ulrich, business leader and management consultant.

Tuminez and Miller
UVU President Astrid Tuminez introduces Gail Miller.

In addition to receiving an honorary doctorate of business, Gail Miller was also the commencement keynote speaker. She began her speech by acknowledging the life-altering events brought on by the coronavirus. “It’s been quite a year,” she said, “and it’s not over yet. This is the pattern of real life. Challenges fill our present, make us long for the past, and help shape our future.” 

Miller told graduates that their lives are educational journeys. “We’re listening and learning about social justice and the opportunity to create needed change,” she said. “It’s important that you continue to listen, to question, to learn, and then, to act.” She said everyone should learn something new every day, and to teach others what they know, to make the world a better place. She said, “Be a student, be a teacher, be a leader!”

Talking about respect, Miller told graduates whether they compete on a basketball court, debate public policy, or solve complicated societal issues, it is OK to disagree — without being disagreeable. Debate and differences of opinion are healthy and helpful — even encouraged. 

But she said that we cannot as a society “ever afford to support racism, hate speech, intolerance, and bullying.” As an example of pushing back against racism, Miller referenced the Utah Jazz’s “Lead Together” campaign that was designed to help unite Utah communities — especially sports teams and fans — in practicing sportsmanship, respect, and kindness.

For more information on the UVU commencement ceremony, go to:

Scroll to Top