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Georgia Southern Announces Fall 2015 Commencement Speakers

Georgia Southern University will hold its 24th annual Fall Commencement with three commencement ceremonies on Friday, Dec. 11, at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., at Hanner Fieldhouse, 590 Herty Drive.

Kathy Bradley will address graduates in the 9 a.m. ceremony for the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies and College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Bradley is an author, speaker and prosecuting attorney who lives and works in Bulloch County. She is a cum laude graduate of Wesleyan College where she received an A.B. in American Studies and the Walter F. George School of Law of Mercer University where she received a J.D. degree. Her first book, Breathing and Walking Around: Meditations on a Life, published by Mercer University Press, received the Will D. Campbell Prize for Creative Nonfiction in 2010, and in 2013 she was named Georgia Author of the Year in Essay. Her second book, Wondering Toward Center, will be published by Mercer University Press in spring 2016. She is a former adjunct faculty member of Georgia Southern’s College of Business and currently serves on the University’s Department of Writing and Linguistics advisory board.

Lonice Barrett, special assistant in the Office of Gov. Nathan Deal, executive director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Foundation and a 50-year alumnus of Georgia Southern, will speak at the 11 a.m. ceremony for the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies, College of Science and Mathematics, Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology and College of Health and Human Sciences. Barrett has served the administrations of eight Georgia governors, beginning with the late Gov. Lester Maddox, and has served twice as the Department of Natural Resources Commissioner. He currently serves as Gov. Deal’s appointee to and chairman of the State Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees and chairman for the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority. A longtime civil servant, Barrett has received numerous awards including the National Governor’s Association (NGA) Distinguished Service to State Government Award, Georgia TREND Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Georgians list in 2006 and election to the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association Hall of Fame. His dedication to Georgia Southern earned him the 1990 Alumnus of the Year award for the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Barrett received a bachelor’s in recreation administration from Georgia Southern and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in parks and recreation from Georgia State College. Today, the 108-acre “Lonice C. Barrett Lake,” a public fishing lake in Perry, Georgia, is named in his honor.

Maj. Gen. Leslie C. Smith will address graduates at the 1 p.m. ceremony for the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies, College of Education, College of Business Administration and the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health. Smith received his commission in the U.S. Army from Georgia Southern in 1983 as a Field Artillery Officer and currently serves as Deputy to the Inspector General for the Office of the Secretary of the Army. Previously, he served as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Other commands include leading a Field Artillery Battalion, a Chemical Battalion and a Chemical Brigade. During his extensive and impressive military career, he has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Senior Parachutist Badge. He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Georgia Southern and was a distinguished military graduate and branched as a Chemical Officer. He also holds a M.S. in administration from Central Michigan University and a master’s in national security strategy from the National Defense University.

The 24th annual Fall Commencement will mark the first ceremony members of the Double Eagle Society will be recognized at the beginning of each of the three ceremonies. This new incentive program and joint initiative between the University’s College of Graduate Studies and the Alumni Association includes alumni who have earned two or more degrees, one undergraduate and one graduate degree or two graduate degrees, from Georgia Southern. For more information on the Double Eagle Society, visit

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers more than 125 degree programs serving more than 20,500 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered and hands-on approach to education. Visit

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