An Army three-star general from Bell Buckle, Tenn., and a top education official from China will receive honorary doctorates from MTSU and will address graduates during commencement exercises May 10.
MTSU alumnus Lt. Gen. William Phillips, who was most recently stationed at the Pentagon as director of the Army’s Acquisition Corps, will be honored and speak at MTSU’s afternoon commencement.
Madam Xu Lin of China, a vice minister of education and director-general of the worldwide network of Confucius Institutes, will be honored and speak at the morning ceremonies.
“We are proud to recognize and welcome these accomplished individuals,” said President Sidney A. McPhee, who announced the honors during a speech Tuesday at the Murfreesboro Rotary Club.
“General Phillips, a proud member of the Blue Raider ROTC battalion, charted a career in service of our nation that found him responsible for billions of dollars of purchases to equip and ready our soldiers across the globe,” McPhee said.
“And Madam Xu has been a committed partner and friend to our university’s efforts to create academic partnerships and cultural exchanges between China and our country.”
This will mark only the third and fourth honorary doctorates presented by MTSU, with the first two presented last year to former U.S. Congressman Bart Gordon and the late Nobel laureate James M. Buchanan, both MTSU alumni.
From February 2010 to this month, Phillips served as the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. He will retire from the Army later this summer after 38 years of service.
“Bill's tremendous vision, leadership, and dedication to excellence has ensured our beloved soldiers fighting on behalf of the nation have always had and will continue to have well into the future, the most technologically advanced and reliable equipment whenever and wherever they need it most,” said U.S. Rep. John Carter in a House speech honoring Phillips.
Carter, R-Texas, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, called Phillips “a true champion for soldier's and their families … His efforts have proven to be exponential and his example unwavering.”
Phillips graduated from MTSU in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree. He received a master’s degree in procurement and materials management from Webster University and a master’s of personnel management from Troy State University. He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College, Defense Systems Management College, and Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
Among his many awards are the Bronze Star Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal. In 2001, he was named the Army's Acquisition Commander of the Year.
Xu leads the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) and serves as chief executive of the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing. During Xu’s tenure, the organization has experienced tremendous growth. Since 2004, it has expanded to more than 120 countries with more than 440 Confucius Institutes and 650 Confucius Classrooms. The organization has reached more than 850,000 students across the world.
“Under Xu’s leadership, Hanban has been committed to making Chinese language and culture teaching resources and services available to the world, meeting the demands of overseas Chinese learners, and contributing to the formation of a world of cultural diversity and harmony,” McPhee said.
Xu received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and a master’s degree from Beijing Normal University. Xu has received numerous educational international awards as well as honorary doctorate degrees from universities around the globe, from the University of Arizona and Western Kentucky University in the U.S. to J.F. Oberlin University in Japan.
Below Pic: Madam Xu Lin, director-general of the Confucius Institutes worldwide (left), tours MTSU’s facilities with President Sidney A. McPhee last year.