MTSU Spring Commencement

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Bart Gordon, Gov. Bill Haslam, Pete Fisher, Dr. James M. Buchanan

An estimated 2,625 students are expected to receive their degrees from MTSU on Saturday, May 11, during the university’s spring 2013 commencement ceremonies.

And for the first time in the university’s history, MTSU will present honorary doctorates to two of its most esteemed alumni: former U.S. Congressman Bart Gordon and the late Nobel laureate James M. Buchanan.

The commencement ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. May 11 in Hale Arena inside Murphy Center.


Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will address graduates and guests at the morning ceremony, where Gordon also will receive an honorary doctorate to accompany his 1971 Bachelor of Science degree from MTSU in political science.

MTSU alumnus Pete Fisher, vice president/general manager for the Grand Ole Opry, will speak at the afternoon commencement celebration, when Buchanan’s family will accept the economic scholar’s honorary doctoral degree.


Buchanan, who graduated first in the Class of 1940 at then-Middle Tennessee State Teachers College after majoring in social sciences, English and mathematics, earned a master’s degree in economics from the University of Tennessee a year later and a doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1948.

On May 11, according to a report from the university’s Registrar’s Office, 2,625 students are set to graduate. Of that number, 2,108 are undergraduates and 517 are graduate students, including 403 master’s candidates, 102 education-specialist recipients and 12 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.

Honorary Ph.D. recipient Gordon, a Murfreesboro native who earned his law degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1973, now is a partner with the law firm K&L Gates in Washington, D.C. He spent 26 years in Congress representing the 6th District and retired in 2010.

The 1970-71 MTSU Associated Student Body president was former chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology and has been described as “a leader in U.S. science, technology, energy and health policy and a champion of the America COMPETES Act,” which authorizes federal investments in innovation and innovators.

MTSU’s second honorary doctoral recipient, Buchanan, also was a Murfreesboro native and was the grandson of Tennessee Gov. John Price Buchanan. A World War II Naval veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star, James Buchanan taught economics at UT, Florida State University, the University of Virginia, the University of California and Virginia Tech and was professor emeritus and advisory general director of the James M. Buchanan Center for Political Economy at George Mason University at his death in January of this year at age 93.

Buchanan, who was a prolific author and lecturer, was co-creator of the “Public Choice” school of economics, which links economic issues with political science, particularly noting that elected officials make policy decisions based on their own interests and motivations instead of for the public good. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1986 for his work.

Morning commencement speaker Haslam, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Emory University in 1980 and worked for his family’s company, Pilot Corporation, until he made a successful run for mayor of Knoxville in 2003.

After two terms leading that city, Haslam sought the Tennessee governor’s office in 2010 and was elected with 65 percent of the vote — the largest victory of any nonincumbent candidate for the office in Tennessee history.

Afternoon speaker Fisher earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communication from MTSU with a concentration in recording industry management in 1987 and was recognized as a distinguished alumnus in 2004. Vice president and general manager of the Grand Ole Opry since 1999, Fisher oversees all activities of the world's longest-running radio show. He also manages the day-to-day operations of the Grand Ole Opry House and Acuff Theatre and produces its weekly Opry shows.

Fisher, who also has worked in artist management and music publishing, was president of the Nashville chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and has been on the boards of multiple industry organizations as well as the Board of Professional Advisors for MTSU’s College of Mass Communication.

Students, friends, families and community supporters who attend the May 11 ceremonies should be aware that each event lasts about two hours and that graduating students are required to stay for the entire ceremony.

Graduation information — including maps and driving directions to Murphy Center, instructions on watching the ceremonies via streaming video on commencement day, cap-and-gown information and contacts for the Registrar’s Office — is available online at

Live streaming video of the spring 2013 commencement ceremonies will start about 15 minutes before each ceremony begins on May 11.


MTSU Spring 2013 Commencement at a Glance

Who: A projected 2,625 graduates* (2,108 undergraduates, 517 graduate students)

What: 2013 MTSU Spring Commencement ceremonies

When: Saturday, May 11
9 a.m.: Colleges of Graduate Studies (includes all master’s, education specialist and doctoral degree candidates), Basic and Applied Sciences, Business and Education;
2 p.m.: Colleges of Behavioral and Health Sciences, Liberal Arts, Mass Communication and University College (includes Regents Online Degree Program and Bachelor of University Studies degree candidates).

Where: Hale Arena inside Murphy Center on the MTSU campus

Commencement speakers:
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, 9 a.m. ceremony.
MTSU alumnus Pete Fisher, vice president/general manager for the Grand Ole Opry, 2 p.m. ceremony.

Honorary doctoral recipients:
MTSU alumnus and former U.S. Congressman Bart Gordon, 9 a.m. ceremony.
The late MTSU alumnus and Nobel laureate Dr. James M. Buchanan, 2 p.m. ceremony.

* Approximate numbers as of April 26, 2013.

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