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Released July 18, 2003


By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG -- A respected statewide officeholder and University of Southern Mississippi graduate will be the commencement speaker at the school's summer commencement exercises.

State Auditor Phil Bryant will speak to graduates participating in ceremonies set for 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, at Reed Green Coliseum on the university's Hattiesburg campus.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to address the students of my alma mater," Bryant said. "My fondest memories are at Southern Miss, and I look forward to sharing some of my life experiences with the graduates."

Bryant was first appointed as state auditor in November 1996 to fill the unexpired term of his predecessor. Phil was elected to a full term as state auditor in November 1999.

Since taking office in 1996, Bryant and his staff have recovered and returned nearly $5 million in taxpayers' money that have been embezzled or improperly spent, while aggressively investigating public corruption within state and local governments. The agency audits approximately $11 billion of taxpayer dollars annually for legal compliance and efficiency.

Prior to becoming state auditor, Byrant served five years as a member of the State House of Representatives, where he was vice chairman of the Insurance Committee and authored the Capital Gains Tax Cut Act of 1992. He currently serves as chairman of the E-Government Committee for the National State Auditors Association (NSAA) and currently serves as vice-chairman of the Mississippi Legislative E-government Oversight Committee.

Bryant is a principal member of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers. He is a long-standing member of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action and is a past President of the Mississippi Republican Elected Officials Association. He is a distinguished member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

His work has been recognized both at home and nationally. He is a recipient of the prestigious Henry Toll Fellowship and the Distinguished Alumnus Award for the Department of History and Political Science at Mississippi College. He was inducted into The University of Southern Mississippi's Hall of Fame and was named Hinds Community College's Alumnus of the Year.

For his relentless pursuit to expand electronic government on the state and local level, he received the "In the Arena Award" presented by the Center For Digital Government and was the 2003 recipient of the "Mississippian of the Year Award" presented by the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP). In 2001, Bryant was selected as the most respected statewide elected official by the Magnolia Report Poll. He was also honored with a federal appointment by former United States Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neil to serve on the U.S. Taxpayers Advocacy Panel (TAP).

"We're so proud of Phil, not only because he's a Southern Miss alumnus but because of his exemplary record of public service to our state," said Southern Miss President Dr. Shelby Thames. "He's a great role model for our students."


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM