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Clyburn Addresses More Than 500 Graduates from Tuskegee University During Commencement Exercises

Sunday, May 11, 2008

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Tuskegee University

TUSKEGEE, Ala. (May 11, 2008) - Tuskegee University on Sunday graduated approximately 500 students during its annual commencement exercises in the Daniel "Chappie" James Center for Aerospace Science and Health Education at 9:30 a.m. According to the Office of the Registrar degrees to be conferred include: the Doctor of Philosophy; Doctor of Veterinary Medicine; Master of Science; Bachelor of Arts; and Bachelor of Science.

"This year's events, like all commencement activities, will focus on our new graduates who will indeed make an impact in their chosen professions," said Dr. Benjamin F. Payton, Tuskegee University President. "Our tradition of holding this wonderful occasion on Mother's Day is yet another way of marking Tuskegee's rich legacy of excellence and service, along with embracing inclusive, deep community and national values."

"The students who have reached this point are products of our numerous academic programs," said Luther Williams, University Provost. "Our effective teaching methods, along with genuine interest from the students make an excellent combination from which I'm sure the world will benefit profusely."

Graduates were addressed by Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), Majority Whip for the 110th Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives. The civil rights activist, politician and philanthropist, who has served the 16th District of South Carolina since 1993, is the second citizen of that state and the second black to be chosen for the third-ranking position in the House. He also serves as a leader of the House Democrats' Faith Working Group. Previous political posts include South Carolina Human Affairs Commissioner, which he served as for 18 years; Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus; and Chair of the Caucus. Clyburn received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the event.

Clyburn pointed out to the audience that Tuskegee University has produced some of the world's most talented and innovative leaders, naming Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, who founded Voorhees College (Denmark, S.C.), when she was in her 20s; and the Tuskegee Airmen.

The congressman also reflected upon his journey to his seat in Washington. "After my third loss, my friend said ‘third strike and you're out,'" he said. "That is a baseball rule. Life should not be played by baseball rules."

"No matter what may come your way, no matter who offers you doubts, no matter how many times you fail ... never give up."

As a distinguished guest, Congressman Artur Davis (D-Ala.), who serves Alabama's 7th District, delivered the welcome for the event. In the 110th Congress, Davis has been appointed to one of the most prestigious committees in the House, the Ways and Means Committee. This committee oversees economic policy in a wide array of areas, including tax law, trade policy and health care, as well as the Social Security and Medicare programs. Davis is only the 10th Alabamian to serve on this important committee in 188 years. Davis also holds a position on the Judiciary Committee, which covers areas ranging from constitutional law to immigration to the criminal and civil justice systems.

Joseph Farley, a former member of the University Board of Trustees who served for 32 years, was honored during the ceremonies. Upon his retirement in 2002, the Board resolved: "That the Tuskegee University Board of Trustees and the members of the Tuskegee Family express gratitude to Mr. Joseph M. Farley for the genuine interest he has exhibited in the welfare of the University, his financial contributions and the outstanding service which he has rendered to the advancement of the Tuskegee program from more than three decades."

While on the Board, Farley, an attorney, served on the Finance Committee. He also contributed to the work of the Executive, Development, Educational Policies, Strategic Planning and Kellogg Oversight committees. He is a former president of Alabama Power Company, Alabama Property Company and Southern Electric Generating Company. The power company named the Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Plant, located near Dothan in southeast Alabama, for him. He is currently a member with the law firm of Balch and Bingham. The University honored Farley with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Immediately following Commencement, the Veterinary Medicine degree-holders took their oath to service in the University Chapel. Approximately 50 candidates received the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

Other Commencement activities included:

The Induction of Teacher Education Candidates was held on Friday, May 9, at 7 p.m. in the Kellogg Conference Center. The speaker for the event was Dr. Joice C. Bailey Lewis, the interim superintendent of the Macon County School District.

On Saturday, May 10, the Army and Air Force ROTC Officers' Commission was held at 1 p.m. in the Tuskegee University Chapel. The speaker for the occasion was Maj. Gen. Jerome Johnson, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Forces, McPherson, Ga.

At 3 p.m., the Nursing and Allied Health Capping and Pinning Ceremony was held. The keynote speaker was Christopher E. Smith, Public Health Prevention Service Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

A tradition of the University President, a reception for the graduation candidates and their parents, was held at Grey Columns, the President's Home, following the day's activities.

Read the article at Tuskegee University