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Morehouse Celebrates An “End of An Era” with a Special Commencement Message from Dr. Walter E. Massey

➢ The College crowns two valedictorians-a first in Morehouse history
➢ More than 500 graduates to receive degrees
➢ 52 members of Phi Beta Kappa to graduate

ATLANTA-May 15, 2007-- After graduating more than 6,000 students and conferring 55 honorary degrees, Dr. Walter E. Massey will hang up his regalia and step down as president of Morehouse College after serving in that capacity for 12 years. This year, Dr. Massey will preside over a history-making event as the College crowns two valedictorians for the first time.

Massey, a 1958 graduate of the institution, will deliver the 123rd Commencement address to the class of 2007 on Sunday, May 20, at 8 a.m. The ceremony will take place on the Century Campus.

For the first time in history, Morehouse will honor two valedictorians. Ruben Gerard Alexander from Stockbridge, Georgia, and Darrell Jay Bennett Jr. from Hampton, Virginia, both completed their studies with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Both are members of the illustrious Phi Beta Kappa Society. A total of 52 members of Phi Beta Kappa will graduate with the class of 2007.

After graduation, Bennett, who majored in history, will enter Harvard Law School, where he will concentrate in international law. He eventually wants to serve in the area of global diplomacy. Alexander, who majored in biology, will go to medical school, where he will concentrate on cardiothoracic surgery.

This year, Massey will present the honorary doctor of humane letters to Clayborne Carson, director, Martin Luther King Jr. Institute, Stanford University; Quincy Jones, multi-Grammy award-winning producer; Butch Lewis, president, Butch Lewis Productions and famed boxing promoter; Fred B. Renwick ’50, professor emeritus of Finance, New York University; Willis “Butch” Sheftall ’64, former Morehouse provost and professor of Economics; and Denzel Washington, Academy Award-winning actor/director.

During his 12 years at Morehouse, Massey is credited with expanding the sphere of influence of Morehouse, attracting people and resources to the College who would not have been otherwise interested.
Some of the people who are now friends and supporters of the school -- who were not before the Massey years include: Oprah Winfrey, who is the largest individual donor to the College, having contributed $12 million to scholarship; Ken Lewis, CEO and president, Bank of America, who served as co-chair of the Campaign for a New Century; Ken Chenault, CEO, American Express, who has visited the campus numerous times for the Presidential Chat Series; Ray Charles, who--before his death--made two $1-million gifts to the College and whose estate donated the Ray Charles tour bus to the school; David Geffen, who contributed $500,000 to the Performing Arts Center; and Denzel Washington, who has made personal donations to the College and whose son, John David, graduated from Morehouse in 2006.
Massey has twice dined with the Queen of England and President George W. Bush; he has danced at the White House at a private state dinner; he has been invited to ride on Air Force One and currently sits on the President’s Science and Technology board.

In fact, Massey’s influence has been so great that Julius Price, a self-educated man who had no apparent ties to Morehouse, left the College $356,000—the bulk of his life savings. Mr. Price once told a family friend that he was impressed that many of the successful black men he read about in news stories were Morehouse graduates.

During his term as president, Morehouse produced two Rhodes scholars. It is one of only two Historically Black Colleges and Universities to produce a total of three. And under his leadership, 100 percent of the College’s tenured faculty hold terminal degrees. His administration launched the Institutional Values Project, which focuses on developing values and trust throughout the campus community; and he has made advances to ensure the College be technologically sound across the board.

Also leaving a stamp on the physical campus, under Massey’s tenure the College constructed the 70,000-square-foot Leadership Center facility, the John H. Hopps Jr. Technology Tower, the Parking Deck and the Otis Moss Jr. Residential Suites.

Upon his retirement, Massey has vowed to spend more time with his two grandchildren, Eva and Artem. He recently has been appointed to the board of directors that will govern Delta Airlines as the company rebuilds after exiting bankruptcy.


Media Logistics for Commencement:
Arrival: Suggested arrival time for working media is 7:00 a.m.

Parking: Parking for media will be available during Commencement along Fair Street (eastbound from Euhrlee to Milton streets). Enter the Century Campus from the Fair Street gate, near Danforth Chapel.

Video/Still Photography: Photographers are asked to be mindful of staff photographers as they move into position for shots. They may approach the stage during the invocation, introduction of speakers and honorary degree recipients, but will have to move once the desired shot has been captured.

Broadcast Media: Photographers wishing to get a clean audio feed may plug into the mult box stationed near the control panel between Hope and Sale halls. The mult box is not located central to the stage, so photographers will need to bring a wireless system for audio.

Posted by at May 4, 2007 05:59 PM

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