September 17, 2014  

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State Supreme Court Justices to Speak at Commencement Exercises Dec. 13

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The University of Southern Mississippi will hold two commencement ceremonies at Reed Green Coliseum on its Hattiesburg campus Friday, Dec. 13. Approximately 1,100 students are candidates for degrees this fall.

State Supreme Court Justice James W. Kitchens will speak to graduates at the 10 a.m. commencement, which will be followed by the 2:30 p.m. ceremony featuring a keynote address by State Supreme Court Justice Randy G. Pierce. Both are Southern Miss graduates.

The commencement ceremonies are scheduled as follows, including participating colleges:

*10 a.m. – Colleges of Arts & Letters, Health, and Science & Technology

*2:30 p.m. – Colleges of Business, Education & Psychology, and Nursing

Faculty from the following academic entities will march at the following times:

*10 a.m. – Colleges of Arts & Letters, Health, and Science & Technology.

*2:30 p.m. – Colleges of Business, Education & Psychology, Nursing, and University Libraries.

Justice Kitchens is a lifelong resident of Crystal Springs, Miss. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Southern Mississippi in 1964 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1967. He is a life member of the Southern Miss Alumni Association.

He was elected district attorney for the Mississippi counties of Copiah, Lincoln, Pike and Walthall in 1971, 1975 and 1979. In 2008, when he was elected to an eight-year term on the Mississippi Supreme Court, commencing in January of 2009.

Justice Kitchens is licensed to practice law in Mississippi and in the District of Columbia, and has been admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, as well as the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

Justice Kitchens has been married to Mary Tooke Kitchens, a retired public school teacher, since 1968. Mary Kitchens is the founder and director of Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation, whose single purpose is to build a fully accessible camp for children and adults with serious illnesses and/or physical, mental and emotional challenges. They are the parents of five adult children, all of whom were educated at Southern Miss.

Justice Pierce grew up in Greene County, Miss., where he currently resides. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting in 1987 from Southern Miss, and then became a Certified Public Accountant before receiving his master’s degree in business administration from Southern Miss. He later graduated from Ole Miss Law School, where he served as president of the Law School Student Body.

Currently, Justice Pierce is an associate justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court serving the Southern District, Place Two, which covers 27 south Mississippi counties. He co-chairs the Commission on Children’s Justice and chairs the Rules Committee on the Legal Profession.

Justice Pierce previously served as a Chancery Court Judge for the Sixteenth Chancery Court District of Jackson, George and Greene counties. He is a former State Representative for District 105 in the Mississippi Legislature, where he served as chairman of the House Education Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Education.

Justice Pierce is a member of the Mississippi Bar, Mississippi Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is a regular speaker at continuing education seminars and is an adjunct professor at The University of Southern Mississippi and the Mississippi College School of Law.

In his spare time, Justice Pierce follows his passion for the arts by writing. His first novel, Pain Unforgiven, was released in May 2011 and his second novel, Magnolia Mud, will be released April 1, 2014. He and his wife Cheryl have four children.

For more information about commencement ceremonies on the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus, including a live streaming webcast of the events, visit http://www.usm.edu/commencement.