Two native Mississippians with an impressive record of public service will serve as commencement speakers for The University of Southern Mississippi’s spring 2011 graduation exercises.
Ray Mabus, the current U.S. Secretary of the Navy and a former Mississippi governor, and 10th District Chancery Court Judge Deborah Gambrell will address graduates Friday, May 13 at Reed Green Coliseum on the Hattiesburg campus at the 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ceremonies, respectively.
Gambrell will also be the Southern Miss Gulf Coast commencement speaker at spring graduation, set for Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m. at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi.
The 10 a.m. commencement ceremony in Hattiesburg will include graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Health and the Honors College; the 3 p.m. ceremony will feature graduates of the colleges of Education and Psychology, Science and Technology and Business. More than 1,700 students are candidates for degrees this semester.
A native of Ackerman, Miss., Mabus was elected governor in 1987 after serving as state auditor. He was appointed U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 1994 by President Bill Clinton and then as Secretary of the Navy by President Barack Obama in 2009. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he served as a Surface Warfare Office aboard the cruiser U.S.S. Little Rock.
Following last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Mabus was tasked by President Obama to prepare a long-term recovery plan for the Gulf of Mexico. Titled “America’s Gulf Coast: A Long-Term Recovery Plan After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill,” it was released in September 2010 and received positive reviews across the political spectrum.
Mabus is the recipient of the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award; the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award; the King Abdul Aziz Award from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award; and the Mississippi Association of Educators’ Friend of Education Award, among many other honors.
Gambrell is a 1972 Southern Miss alumna and was appointed to her current post by Gov. Haley Barbour in January. The Jasper County, Miss. native began her career as an attorney with Gambrell Law Firm, PLLC in 1978 after graduating cum laude from Mississippi College School of Law, and served as Forrest County Justice Court Judge from 1980-2011.
Her professional associations include membership with the Mississippi Bar Association, with service on its Professional Responsibility and Access to Justice Committees; and the South Central Bar Association, which she served as president in 2000.
Active in her community, she is a member of the board of directors for the United Way of Southeast Mississippi and the Family YMCA (including service as its president); the DuBard School Advisory Board; Friends of the Library at Southern Miss; and a graduate advisor to the Southern Miss Iota Kappa Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
She is a 2005 recipient of the Hattiesburg Women’s Forum Woman of the Year award, and in 1999 she was honored by Southern Miss with its Spirit of Clyde Kennard Award. In 2009 she received one of the Hardest Working Hurricane Relief Awards from the Tom Joyner Morning Show, which was donated to the local hurricane relief agency Recover, Rebuild, Restore South Mississippi (R3SM).
For more information about the Southern Miss spring 2011 commencement ceremonies, online visit www.usm.edu/commencement