U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus will address graduates at the University of Arkansas’ fall commencement Dec. 15, university officials said Monday in a statement.
Mabus, appointed as the 75th Navy secretary by President Barack Obama in May 2009, started his naval career aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock. A Mississppi native, he served as state auditor and as governor before being appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994 as ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
About 700 students are expected to attend the ceremony, which starts at 9 a.m. in Barnhill Arena on the Fayetteville campus.
“We are very pleased to have a public servant with the dedication and stature of Secretary Mabus address our graduates,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “He showed his commitment to public education during his term as governor of Mississippi. In the years since he has demonstrated expertise in areas ranging from Middle East diplomacy to rebuilding the Gulf Coast after the BP oil disaster, and of course in his duties as leader of our nation’s Navy and Marines. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with our students.”
Also speaking at the commencement will be Vincent Harding, a lifelong civil-rights leader, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters; and W. Stephen Smith, an Arkansas native internationally recognized for his approach to teaching singing, who will get an honorary Doctor of Arts and Humane Letters, the university said.