Congressman Bart Gordon & U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings
Will Serve as Featured Speakers for Dual-Ceremony Graduation Event at MTSU
(MURFREESBORO)—Approximately 1,570 degree candidates are expected to graduate during MTSU’s 95th fall commencement—a record number of candidates for a December graduation event—during the university’s upcoming commencement ceremonies, reports Dr. Sherian Huddleston, associate vice provost, Enrollment Services.
On Saturday, Dec. 16, MTSU will again feature dual ceremonies and dual speakers starting at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Murphy Center. Of the 1,570 set to graduate, 1,409 are undergraduates and 161 graduate students, including 140 master’s candidates, nine education specialist (Ed.S.) degree candidates and three Ph.D. candidates.
Candidates from the College of Graduate Studies, Jennings A. Jones College of Business, and College of Education and Behavioral Science will receive their degrees in the morning ceremony. That afternoon degrees will be conferred on candidates in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, College of Mass Communication, and the College of Continuing Education and Distance Learning, said Dr. Jack Thomas, senior vice provost for academic affairs and chairman of the commencement committee.
Congressman Bart Gordon, who has served as the representative in the 6th District of middle Tennessee since first winning election in 1984, will be the guest speaker for the 9 a.m. ceremony. A 1971 graduate with honors from MTSU, Gordon also received his J.D. from the law school at the University of Tennessee in 1973 and served in the United States Army Reserves in 1971-72 before being honorably discharged. Prior to being elected to the state’s House of Representatives, Gordon was an attorney in private practice.
A lifelong native of Murfreesboro, Gordon is the dean of the Tennessee delegation and has served as the ranking member on both the Technology Subcommittee (1995-96) and the Space Subcommittee (1997-2002). In 2003, Gordon assumed the senior Democratic post on the Full Committee. Additionally, he also serves on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as serving on two subcommittees in Energy and Commerce-Health and Telecommunications and the Internet.
A firm believer in a bipartisan form of government to create needed solutions, Gordon, among his many accomplishments, is perhaps best known for his work on issues related to NASA, including leading the call for an independent investigation of the Columbia disaster, pushing the agency on its financial management and cost estimating practices, and working to ensure that NASA addresses its workforce and infrastructure needs in a credible fashion.
A former director of the state Democratic Party in 1979 and state party chairman from 1981 to 1983, Gordon makes his home in Murfreesboro with wife Leslie and their daughter, Peyton Margaret Gordon.
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings will be the featured speaker for the 2 p.m. ceremony. A native of Michigan and longtime resident of Houston, Texas, where she graduated from the University of Houston with a political science degree, Spellings is the country’s eighth education secretary, receiving confirmation of office from the U.S. Senate on Jan. 20, 2005.
The first mother of school-aged children to serve in the role as education secretary, Spellings has a special appreciation for the hopes and concerns of American families and actively works to ensure that every young American has the knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st century.
Prior to her current appointment, Spellings served as assistant to President George W. Bush in the area of domestic policy, where she helped craft education policies, including the No Child Left Behind Act, in addition to aiding in the development and implementation of White House policy on immigration, health, labor, transportation, justice and housing.
Spellings, before her White House tenure, also served for six years as a senior adviser to then-Texas Governor Bush. In this role, her responsibilities centered upon developing and implementing the governor’s education policy, which included the Texas reading Initiative, the Student Success Initiative to help eliminate social promotion, and the nation’s strongest school assessment and accountability system.
A former associate executive director of the Texas Association of School Boards, Spellings is the mother of two daughters, one of whom is a sophomore in college and the other is a freshman in high school.
Regarding the upcoming commencement event, Thomas said he wanted to remind all degree candidates of the importance of appropriate dress, decorum and respect for the commencement ceremony.
“We believe this is a very important day in the lives of many people,” Thomas said. “Commencement is a day that families always remember as special. It is difficult to give the ceremony the dignified atmosphere it deserves if people are using air horns or leaving before the completion of the ceremony.”
Additionally, per Thomas, the graduation committee also emphasized that students who participate in commencement will be required to stay for the entire ceremony. The December ceremony should last about two hours. If candidates are planning celebration activities, please be aware of this commitment, he said.
“To make this a special day, it requires cooperation from everyone in attendance,” Thomas said. “We believe it should be a dignified ceremony, which adds to its enjoyment of all in attendance.”
On Dec. 16, the doors to Murphy Center will open at 8 a.m. for the morning ceremony and candidates are expected to be in their assigned areas, dressed in their caps and gowns, no later than 8:30 a.m. For the afternoon ceremony, the doors will open at 1 p.m., and candidates are expected to be in their assigned areas and ready at 1:30 p.m.
Officials report that students who are not in their assigned gyms at the proper times will not be allowed to participate in the ceremony. Because commencement rehearsals are no longer conducted, timely attendance is mandatory for students to receive important instructions.
• For more information about commencement or receiving a degree in absentia, please visit the Records Office Web site at www.mtsu.edu/~records/grad.htm. Questions about graduation may be directed to the Records Office at 615-898-2600.
MTSU FALL 2006 COMMENCEMENT AT A GLANCE
Who: Approximately 1,570 graduates* (1,409 undergraduates, 161 graduate students)
What: 2006 MTSU fall commencement
When: 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dec. 16.
Where: Murphy Center on the MTSU campus.
• Bart Gordon, representative for the 15-county 6th Congressional District of middle Tennessee, at 9 a.m. ceremony.
• Margaret Spellings, eighth and current U.S. secretary of education, at 2 p.m. ceremony.
*— Approximate number as of Dec. 13, 2006.
ATTENTION, MEDIA: To obtain a jpeg of guest speakers Gordon or Spellings for editorial use, please call the Office of News and Public Affairs at MTSU at 615-898-2919.