An estimated 1,919 new Blue Raider alumni will be created in two commencement ceremonies. The fall graduations will be held in Murphy Center at 9:00 o'clock on Saturday morning, December 15th, and again at 2:00 that afternoon.
The Honorable Beth Harwell of Nashville, speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, will address graduates and guests at the morning ceremony. Mark Emkes, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, will speak at the afternoon celebration.
Of the 1,919 students set to graduate on Dec. 15, 1,637 are undergraduates and 282 are graduate students, including 261 master’s candidates, 19 education-specialist recipients and two doctoral candidates. Three graduate students also will receive graduate certificates.
Candidates from the College of Graduate Studies, Basic and Applied Sciences, Jennings A. Jones College of Business and the College of Education will receive their degrees in the morning ceremony. That afternoon, degrees will be conferred on candidates in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, College of Mass Communication and the University College.
Harwell is currently serving her 12th term in the state House from District 56, which includes a part of Davidson County. A dedicated community volunteer and an award-winning legislator, Harwell has also served as an assistant professor of political science at Belmont University.
First elected in 1988, she has been a strong advocate for tougher sexual abuse laws, victims’ rights, welfare reform, children’s issues and, most notably, education. She has sponsored and passed legislation clarifying and toughening the penalties against stalkers, requiring more time behind bars for rapists, strengthening Tennessee’s child rape laws and building crime-prevention cooperation among the states.
In 2009, Harwell’s work for education reform led to the passage of landmark charter school legislation. She also pushed passage of legislation to direct additional funds for improvement of training for day care workers.
Emkes began his career in 1976 at the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company as an international trainee. Following his first job changing tires at a Firestone store near Houston, Texas, he was promoted to store manager and quickly moved into management positions in the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Brazil and Mexico. In 2000, he returned to the United States and was named president of Bridgestone Firestone Latin America.
Just two years later, he became chairman, CEO and president of Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC and also served on the board of directors of the parent company, Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. Emkes was promoted to chairman and CEO of Bridgestone Americas Holding in 2004, where his direct responsibilities included the development, manufacture, distribution and sales of products throughout North, Central, and South America and his 50,000 teammates helped the company achieve annual sales of $12 billion.
Emkes retired from Bridgestone in 2010 and was appointed to Gov. Bill Haslam's Cabinet to lead the Department of Finance and Administration. In addition to his community service work, Emkes was the 2011 recipient of MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones Champion of Free Enterprise Award, and in October 2012 he was inducted into the Nashville Business Hall of Fame.