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Frist delivers commencement address

Frist
Senator Bill Frist speaks with reporters at
a news conference prior to commencement

William H. Frist, M.D., majority Leader, United States Senate addressed more than 750 graduates, their families and friends at spring commencement, held in McKenzie Arena.

Read Frist’s speech.

Frist was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994, the 54th U.S. Senator from Tennessee. He was the sole challenger to defeat a full-term incumbent that year and the first practicing physician elected to the Senate since 1928. A fourth generation Tennessean, Frist’s great, great grandfather was among Chattanooga's 53 original settlers. In 2000, Frist was elected to a second term in the United States Senate by the largest vote total ever received by a candidate for statewide election in the history of Tennessee.

Born and raised in Nashville, Frist graduated in 1974 from Princeton University, where he specialized in health care policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. In 1978, he graduated with honors from Harvard Medical School, and spent the next seven years in surgical training at Massachusetts General Hospital; Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, England; and Stanford University Medical Center. He is board certified in both general surgery and heart surgery.

In 1985, Frist joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he founded and subsequently directed the multi-disciplinary Vanderbilt Transplant Center, which under his leadership became a nationally renowned center of multi-organ transplantation. A heart and lung surgeon, he performed over 150 heart and lung transplant procedures, including the first successful combined heart-lung transplant in the Southeast. Frist has written more than 100 articles, chapters, and abstracts on medical research and five books: Transplant , which examines the social and ethical issues of transplantation and organ donation; Grand Rounds in Transplantation ;Tennessee Senators, 1911-2001 :Portraits of Leadership in a Century of Change ;When Every Moment Counts , a family guide on bioterrorism; and Good People Beget Good People.


l-r: John Petersen, President of the University of Tennessee;
Senator Bill Frist; UT Trustees Amy Prevost (SGA President) and
Dr. Richard Rice (President of the Faculty Senate);
Chancellor Roger Brown

Frist is particularly passionate about confronting the global AIDS pandemic. He frequently takes medical mission trips to Africa to perform surgery and care for those in need. As Senate Majority Leader, he continues to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS crisis throughout the world.

In 2000, he was unanimously elected chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) for the 107th Congress and in December 2002 was unanimously elected Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate (108th Congress). He assumed his position as the 18th Senate Majority Leader and 14th Republican Floor Leader having served fewer total years in the U.S. Congress than any previous leader.

He currently serves on the following committees: Finance; Rules; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). In the past, he has served on the following committees: Foreign Relations, Budget, Banking, Commerce, and Small Business. In 2001, he was named one of two Congressional representatives to the United Nations General Assembly.

Frist and his wife, Karyn, have three sons: Harrison, Jonathan, and Bryan.

May 8, 2006

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