Tuesday, April 27, 2010

[429] 2,100-Plus Graduates Set To Participate In 99th Spring Commencement

EDITORIAL CONTACT: Office of News and Public Affairs, 615-898-2919

Secretary of State Tre Hargett, MTSU Alumnus James Free Speak at May 8 Ceremonies; MTSU Recognizes Four Distinguished Alums at Morning Commencement Event

(MURFREESBORO)—More than 2,100 degree candidates are expected to graduate during MTSU’s 99th spring commencement ceremonies, according to a report from Sherian Huddleston, associate vice provost for enrollment services.

MTSU will again feature dual ceremonies and dual speakers beginning at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, May 8, in Murphy Center. Of the 2,180 set to graduate during the event, 1,804 are undergraduates and 376 are graduate students, including 278 master’s candidates, 88 education-specialist recipients and 10 doctoral candidates.

Candidates from the College of Graduate Studies, Jennings A. Jones College of Business, and College of Education 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. Diane Miller, interim executive vice president and provost and chairwoman of the commencement committee.

MTSU also will recognize four Distinguished Alumni during the 9 a.m. ceremony: Lauren Gillespie Agee (B.S., ‘01), winner of the 2009–10 Young Alumni Achievement Award; David B. Mitchell (B.S., ‘73), winner of the Professional Achievement Award; Tom D. Vance (B.B.A., ’76), winner of the Service to the Community Award; and George H. Frost (B.S., ‘56), winner of the Service to the University Award.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett will serve as the guest speaker for the 9 a.m. ceremony.

Hargett became the 37th secretary of state in January 2009 after serving as chairman of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority. He also served 10 years in the Tennessee House of Representatives as the representative for the 97th District. During his service, his House Republican colleagues elected him twice as the Republican leader.

As a lawmaker, Hargett’s experience has included service on the following committees: Finance, Ways and Means, Health and Human Resources, Government Operations, State and Local Government, Ethics, The Tennessee Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, and TennCare Oversight.

In the House, he was a driving force behind legislation for more electronic disclosure of campaign contributions, as well as increasing the requirements of public officials’ public statements of interest. He also sponsored and co-sponsored numerous legislative items, including Senate Joint Resolution One, which allowed a statewide constitutional amendment permitting local governments to initiate property tax relief for senior citizens.

A native of Ripley, Tenn., Hargett graduated with honors from Memphis State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Master of Business Administration degree. He is married to the former Dawn Simbeck of Loretto, Tenn., and they reside in Hendersonville with their two sons. He is the son of Pat Vaughan of Wingo, Ky., and Gus Hargett Jr. of Murfreesboro.

• James C. Free, president and CEO of The Smith-Free Group, will be the featured speaker for the 1 p.m. commencement ceremony.

Before co-founding The Smith-Free Group, a business/governmental affairs firm, in 1995, Free served as vice chairman of Walker-Free Associates, a consulting firm he joined in 1981. At both firms, he has represented major American companies in areas such as energy, entertainment, communication, healthcare, banking and insurance.

A two-time graduate of MTSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and a master’s degree in public administration, Free went on to serve as assistant director of the Admissions Office and later as an assistant to MTSU’s vice president. His lifelong service to the university includes the establishment of a scholarship for students from Maury County and current service on MTSU’s President’s Council, as well as active involvement with the MTSU Foundation.

Active in the Democratic Party, Free has served on the House and Senate Democratic Campaign Committees and the Democratic National Committee’s Commission on Delegate Selection. He was the Southern Regional Coordinator for President Jimmy Carter’s 1976 campaign and his deputy campaign manager in 1980. In 1977, he took his legislative experience to Washington, D.C., to serve in the Carter White House as a special assistant to the president, where he was an advocate for Carter’s programs before Congress.

Free served as a campaign adviser for Albert Gore Jr.’s 1988 and 2000 presidential runs, in addition to serving on the Democratic National Committee’s Finance Council in 1992 and ’96, among numerous other accomplishments.

A native of Columbia, Tenn., Free and his wife, Ann Todd Free, currently reside in the District of Columbia.

During the upcoming commencement events, MTSU’s Miller noted, all degree candidates should keep in mind the importance of appropriate dress, decorum and respect.

“We believe this is a very important day in the lives of many people,” she 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.”

Graduation committee members also emphasized that students who participate in commencement will be required to stay for their entire scheduled ceremony. The ceremonies should last about two hours each, so graduation candidates planning celebration activities should be aware of this time commitment.

“To make this a special day, it requires cooperation from everyone in attendance,” Miller said. “We believe it should be a dignified ceremony, which adds to its enjoyment of all in attendance.”

On May 8, 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 noon and candidates are expected to be in their assigned areas and ready at 12:30 p.m.

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 website at www.mtsu.edu/~records/grad.htm. Questions about graduation may be directed to the Records Office at 615-898-2600.


Who: Approximately 2,180 graduates* (1,804 undergraduates, 376 graduate students)
What: 2010 MTSU spring commencement
When: 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, May 8
Where: Murphy Center on the MTSU campus.

Commencement speakers:
• Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, 9 a.m. ceremony.
• James C Free, MTSU alumnus and president/CEO of The Smith-Free Group, 1 p.m. ceremony.

*— Approximate number as of April 21, 2010.

With three Nobel Prize winners among its alumni and former faculty, Middle Tennessee State University confers master’s degrees in 10 areas, the Specialist in Education degree, the Doctor of Arts degree and the Doctor of Philosophy degree. MTSU is ranked among the top 100 public universities in the nation in the Forbes “America’s Best Colleges” 2009 survey.

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