Seriously, Mississippi, you can't quit you.
Ole Miss today confirmed rumors we've been hearing—that Gov. Phil Bryant, who is under fire in the state and nationally for signing SB 2681, is going to be the commencement speaker at the University of Mississippi, which is still trying to recover from the latest bigoted incident on campus.
I'm, frankly, astounded at the timing. I know many people at Ole Miss are working to move the university past its past, but how in the world does this choice help? Who makes these decisions?
Here's the verbatim release:
OXFORD, Miss. – Gov. Phil Bryant is set to visit the University of Mississippi on May 10 to deliver the main address at the university's 161st Commencement.
Mississippi's 64th governor, Bryant was sworn in on Jan. 10, 2012. Before becoming the state's chief executive, he was lieutenant governor from 2008 to 2011. He also served as state auditor and represented his legislative district in the Mississippi House of Representatives for five years.
The Moorhead native speaks to graduating students, their families and other guests at 9 a.m. in the Grove. This year's graduating class includes about 2,650 spring candidates for undergraduate and graduate degrees, plus some 1,000 August 2013 graduates.
"Over the years, we have had leaders from many fields come to campus for our commencement addresses, and Gov. Bryant has provided valuable leadership to our state in both the legislative and executive branches for nearly 25 years," Chancellor Dan Jones said. "By championing education and business reforms, he has helped drive economic development and provide a brighter future for all Mississippians. We look forward to the insights and challenges he will offer our graduates."
Recipients of doctor of philosophy degrees are to be hooded by their major professors in a 7:30 p.m. ceremony May 9 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College ceremony begins at 4 p.m. at the same location.
A shuttle service for handicapped and elderly visitors is available Saturday before the main ceremony. Shuttles will pick up people needing assistance from various locations and take them to the seating area. (Wheelchairs, if needed, must be provided by families.) The headquarters for the shuttle service will be at the Department of Parking and Transportation tent, at the intersection of University Avenue and All American Drive. To request assistance, call 662-915-7235.
In case of rain, the ceremony will be moved to Tad Smith Coliseum. If the weather is threatening, a decision on moving the ceremony indoors will be made by 8 a.m. and announced through media outlets, text messaging and the Ole Miss website.
Following the main ceremony, individual schools and the College of Liberal Arts hold ceremonies at various times and locations to present baccalaureate, master's, doctor of pharmacy and juris doctor degrees and awards. The schedule is as follows:
College of Liberal Arts master's degrees – 11 a.m., Fulton Chapel
Patterson School of Accountancy – 11 a.m., Ford Center
School of Applied Sciences – 11 a.m., Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center
School of Business Administration – 11 a.m., Tad Smith Coliseum
School of Engineering – 11 a.m., Lyceum Circle
School of Education – 11 a.m., Grove
School of Law – 11 a.m., Grove
Bachelor of General Studies – 11:30 a.m., Jackson Avenue Center
School of Pharmacy – 2:30 p.m., Manning Center
Meek School of Journalism and New Media – 2:30 p.m., Ford Center
College of Liberal Arts – 2:30 p.m., Tad Smith Coliseum
In case of rain, the College of Liberal Arts master's degree ceremony will be moved to 11 a.m. in Nutt Auditorium. The School of Education ceremony will be moved to 5 p.m. in Tad Smith Coliseum; Engineering, 11 a.m. in Fulton Chapel; and Law, 5 p.m. in the Manning Center.
Besides Bryant's address, the main ceremony also includes remarks by the senior class president, recognition for the university's outstanding teacher and announcements of the Frist Student Service Awards and the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award.
Bryant earned an associate's degree in criminal justice from Hinds Community College and completed his bachelor's degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. He holds a master's degree in political science from Mississippi College, and before assuming his role as governor, Bryant served as an adjunct professor of government there.
He began his career as a deputy sheriff in Hinds County and later worked as an insurance investigator before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1991. In 1996, then-Gov. Kirk Fordice appointed Bryant as state auditor, a position he was re-elected to in 1999 and 2003.
As governor, Bryant has led Mississippi in implementing public education reforms and in building a competitive business climate that attracts major employers such as Yokohama Tire Corp. He is president of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and past president of the Southern States Energy Board. Bryant is also an avid outdoorsman and a longtime member of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action.
Because of campus construction projects, parking and transportation options have changed on campus. Guests are encouraged to check out parking and driving instructions at http://commencement.olemiss.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/90/2014/04/Commence2014_Parking5.pdf">http://commencement.olemiss.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/90/2014/04/Commence2014_Parking5.pdf. A map showing construction zones road closures is available at http://beautiful.olemiss.edu/">http://beautiful.olemiss.edu/.
For more information on commencement activities, go to http://www.olemiss.edu/commencement/">http://www.olemiss.edu/commencement/. For assistance related to a disability, call 662-915-7234.For more information, contact Ann McCauley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: PR Director Danny Blanton, 662-915-1678, email@example.com
For more information about the University of Mississippi, visit http://news.olemiss.edu">http://news.olemiss.edu or sign up for our RSS feed at http://rebs.ms/umnewsrss">http://rebs.ms/umnewsrss. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter at http://rebs.ms/UMsocial">http://rebs.ms/UMsocial.