U.S. Navy Secretary to Speak at U of A Fall Commencement
Harding, Smith to receive honorary degreesMonday, December 03, 2012
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Ray Mabus, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, will address graduating University of Arkansas students at the fall 2012 Commencement. The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, in Barnhill Arena. This will be the second fall commencement since the university re-instated the ceremony last year, at the request of students. An estimated 700 students are expected to attend.
“We are very pleased to have a public servant with the dedication and stature of Secretary Mabus address our graduates,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “He showed his commitment to public education during his term as governor of Mississippi. In the years since he has demonstrated expertise in areas ranging from Middle East diplomacy to rebuilding the Gulf Coast after the BP oil disaster, and of course in his duties as leader of our nation’s Navy and Marines. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with our students.”
There will be two additional guest speakers during the commencement ceremony. Vincent Harding, a life-long civil rights leader and non-violence advocate, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. W. Stephen Smith, an Arkansas native internationally recognized for his innovative approach to teaching the art of singing, will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts and Humane Letters. For more about Harding and Smith, see the earlier Newswire story announcing their honorary degrees.
For the fall commencement, graduating students from all of the U of A colleges and schools, undergraduate and graduate, will attend a single ceremony.
Ray Mabus is the 75th U.S. Secretary of the Navy, leading America’s Navy and Marine Corps. He is responsible for almost 900,000 people, more than 400 ships, and an annual budget of over $150 billion. He was appointed by President Barack Obama in May, 2009.
The Secretary of the Navy is responsible for conducting all the affairs of the Department of the Navy. Additionally, he oversees the construction, outfitting, and repair of naval ships, equipment and facilities, and is responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies and programs that are consistent with the national security policies and objectives established by the President and the Secretary of Defense.
In June 2010, President Obama asked Secretary Mabus to prepare a long-term recovery plan for the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. His report “America’s Gulf Coast: A Long-Term Recovery Plan After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill” was released in September 2010 and was met with broad bi-partisan support.
Mabus began his public career as an officer in the U.S. Navy aboard the cruiser U.S.S. Little Rock. He served as State Auditor of Mississippi from 1984-88, and in 1987 he was elected Governor, becoming the youngest governor of Mississippi in more than 100 years. As governor he stressed education and job creation. His administration passed one of the most comprehensive education reform programs in America, and he was named one of Fortune Magazine’s top ten education governors.
Mabus was appointed Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by President Clinton in 1994. During his tenure as Ambassador, Saudi Arabia officially abandoned the boycott of United States businesses that trade with Israel.
Mabus served as Chairman and CEO of Foamex from 2006-April 2007, leading this large manufacturing company out of bankruptcy in less than nine months, paying all creditors in full and saving equity.
In the course of his career Mabus has received the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the U.S. Army’s distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award, the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award, the King Abdul Aziz Award from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Mississippi Association of Educators’ Friend of Education Award.
Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
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