Former Governor, U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to Deliver Commencement Address

April 2010 By

OXFORD, Miss. - U.S. Secretary of the Navy Raymond E. Mabus Jr. returns to his alma mater May 8 to deliver the University of Mississippi's 157th commencement address.

Mabus, who served as Mississippi governor from 1988 to 1992 and was U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1994 to 1996, speaks to graduating students and their families at 9 a.m. in the Grove. This year's graduating class includes some 2,800 candidates for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

"We have a tradition of bringing nationally and internationally renowned leaders to campus for our commencement addresses, and this year we are honored to bring one of our own back to Ole Miss," Chancellor Dan Jones said. "Ray Mabus has helped shape state, national and international policies for more than 25 years, and he is also an adept businessman and a sharp legal mind. His observations on the world should provide valuable insights for everyone."

Recipients of doctor of philosophy degrees are to be hooded by their major professors in a 7:30 p.m. ceremony May 7 in the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

A shuttle service for handicapped visitors is to be provided Saturday before the main ceremony. Shuttles will pick up people needing assistance at the planters in front of Coulter Hall on University Avenue, and take them to the seating area for the main ceremony. (Wheelchairs, if needed, must be provided by families.) Visitors needing assistance after the ceremony should tell their driver.

In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to Tad Smith Coliseum. (If the weather is threatening, a decision on moving the ceremony indoors will be made by 8 a.m. and announced through media outlets and the UM website.)

Following the main ceremony, individual schools and the College of Liberal Arts hold ceremonies at various times and locations to present baccalaureate, master's, doctor of pharmacy and juris doctor degrees and awards. The schedule is as follows:
College of Liberal Arts master's degrees - 11 a.m., Fulton Chapel
School of Accountancy - Ford Center, 11 a.m.
School of Applied Sciences - Indoor Practice Facility, 11 a.m.
School of Business Administration - Tad Smith Coliseum, 11 a.m.
School of Engineering - Lyceum Circle, 11 a.m.
School of Education - Grove, 11 a.m.
School of Law - Grove, 11 a.m.
School of Pharmacy - Indoor Practice Facility, 2 p.m.
College of Liberal Arts and Meek School of Journalism and New Media - Tad Smith Coliseum, 2 p.m.

In case of rain, the College of Liberal Arts master's degree ceremony will be moved to 11 a.m. in Nutt Auditorium. The School of Education ceremony will be moved to 2:30 p.m. in the Indoor Practice Facility; Engineering, 11 a.m. in Fulton Chapel; Law, 1:30 p.m. in the Ford Center; and Pharmacy, 5 p.m. in Tad Smith Coliseum.

Mabus, a native of Ackerman, earned a bachelor's degree in English and political science from UM, a master's degree in political science from Johns Hopkins University and a law degree from Harvard Law School. He served as a U.S. Navy surface warfare officer aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock and later worked as a law clerk in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

He was elected state auditor in 1983, and during his term participated in a huge FBI sting operation that recovered millions in misspent or stolen public funds. As the youngest Mississippi governor in more than 100 years, he stressed education and job creation. He oversaw the passage of Better Education for Success Tomorrow, one of the most comprehensive education reform programs in America, and was named one of Fortune magazine's top 10 education governors.

During his tenure as ambassador, a crisis with Iraq was averted and Saudi Arabia officially abandoned a boycott of American businesses that trade with Israel. He also was chairman and CEO of Foamex International Inc., a manufacturer of flexible polyurethane foam and foam products, which he led out of bankruptcy in less than nine months, paying all creditors in full and saving equity.

As secretary of the Navy, he leads the Navy and Marine Corps and is responsible for an annual budget of more than $150 billion and almost 900,000 people.