Approximately 1,270 students are candidates for degrees this fall at The University of Southern Mississippi, which holds its commencement exercises on its Hattiesburg campus Friday, Dec. 16.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss) will be the fall 2011 commencement speaker for two graduation ceremonies at Reed Green Coliseum. The first ceremony, set for 10 a.m., will include graduates from the College of Arts and Letters, College of Health and University Libraries; the 2:30 p.m. ceremony will include graduates of the College of Business, the College of Education and Psychology and the College of Science and Technology.
A Pontotoc, Miss. native and U.S. Air Force veteran, Wicker has served Mississippi at the state and federal levels. He represented Lee and Pontotoc counties in the State Senate before being elected seven times, beginning in 1994, as U.S. Representative for the First Congressional District. He was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by former Sen. Trent Lott in 2007, and then won the seat in the 2008 elections.
“We are especially pleased to have a distinguished public servant such as Sen. Wicker serve as our commencement speaker,” said Southern Miss President Dr. Martha Saunders. “His outstanding record of dedication and service to the betterment of our state and nation speaks for itself, and I know he will deliver an inspiring message to our new graduates as they embark on their own careers.”
Wicker serves as Deputy Whip and is a member of the Armed Services Committee; the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; and the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Wicker has been instrumental in bringing more research funding to Mississippi universities for a wide range of health-related projects to fight disease and improve quality of life. Most notably, he authored the Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education (MD CARE) Act of 2001, which created NIH centers of excellence to coordinate and enhance muscular dystrophy research. The Wicker Project at Children's National Medical Center is a leader in muscular dystrophy research.
He has been a strong advocate for economic development initiatives to help keep Mississippians competitive in the global marketplace. Wicker also actively supports cancer survivorship programs and efforts to fight heart disease with the American Heart Association, diabetes, and childhood obesity. He has twice been recognized as a "champion" of polio eradication for his work to wipe out polio worldwide, and is co-founder of the Senate Malaria Caucus, working to eliminate this preventable disease.
After each graduation ceremony, graduates and guests will visit with faculty, staff and administrators at the Payne Center basketball courts. Photo set-ups will be available. For more information about commencement, online visit http://www.usm.edu/commencement