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Released December 12, 2003

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - A University of Southern Mississippi alumnus urged more than 1,100 graduates participating in commencement exercises Friday at his alma mater to pursue integrity in their journey through life.

"While it is true that we are who we are as a result of our genetic makeup, our upbringing and our surroundings, it is ultimately up to each of us to make the most of the best inside of ourselves," said Ricky Mathews, publisher of the Sun-Herald newspaper in Biloxi, in his commencement address at Reed Green Coliseum.

In a society recovering from terrorist attacks and corporate and political scandals, today's graduating class has a unique opportunity to reclaim the values that the nation's founding fathers espoused, Mathews said.

Chief among those values is integrity, he said, referring to it as "the cornerstone of personal excellence."

"This class has a great opportunity to make a positive contribution to society on so many levels, and we've never had more opportunities than now," he said.

Mathews, who grew up in Gulfport, graduated from Southern Miss in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and later earned his MBA, also from Southern Miss. He began his 22-year career at the Sun-Herald as a college intern, and has held a variety of posts at the paper before becoming publisher.

Mathews said he was honored to address Southern Miss graduates, and is grateful for the opportunity to make a contribution to his hometown and South Mississippi through his work at the Sun-Herald.

"It's quite an honor to be the publisher of the newspaper in the community in which you were raised," Mathews said.

Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames praised Mathews for his accomplishments at the Sun-Herald and for his presentation to Southern Miss graduates.

"He's a good friend of Southern Miss and we're grateful for his service to the university," Thames said.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM