Special guests will address 2,500+ grads at May 9 MTSU commencement ceremonies


Special guests will address 2,500+ grads at May 9 MTSU commencement ceremonies | Bill Haslam, Evan Cope Darin Gordon, MTSU News, MTSU

A special pair of guests will be on hand Saturday, May 9, to celebrate with an estimated 2,520 students receiving their degrees in two spring 2015 commencement ceremonies inside MTSU's Murphy Center.

Evan Cope, a Murfreesboro attorney and the new chair of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, is the guest speaker for the university's 9 a.m. commencement ceremony May 9.

Darin Gordon, director of health care finance and administration for the state of Tennessee and an MTSU alumnus, will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Students 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.

Students in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, College of Mass Communication and the University College will receive their degrees in the afternoon event.

MTSU's commencement ceremonies are always free and open to the public. Friends, families and supporters who can't attend in person can watch each ceremony live online May 9 via streaming video.

The live commencement coverage will begin about 15 minutes before each ceremony starts; visit http://ow.ly/rwxOz for a link to the video feed and more details.

MTSU's Registrar's Office reported this week that 2,133 of the 2,520 students set to graduate May 9 are undergraduates and 387 are graduate students, including 340 master's candidates, 33 education-specialist degree recipients and 12 doctoral candidates. Another eight students are set to receive graduate certificates.

Cope is a partner with Cope, Hudson, Reed & McCreary, PLLC, a law firm based in Murfreesboro, and is a graduate of Rhodes College and the University of Memphis School of Law.

He has deep family roots in education: his grandfather, Dr. Quill Evan Cope, served as Tennessee's education commissioner from 1952 through 1958 and as the fourth president of MTSU from 1958 until 1968. The university's main administration building is named for Dr. Cope.

Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Evan Cope to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission in 2011, and the group elected Cope chairman in January 2015.

Gordon, a 1995 MTSU political science graduate, has worked with three Tennessee governors during his 17-plus-years in public health care finance and management. He began serving as director of TennCare, Tennessee's Medicaid program, in 2006, and now leads the state Health Care Finance and Administration agency in the Department of Finance and Administration.

In addition to his responsibilities for TennCare and CoverKids, Gordon is responsible for the state's high-risk pool, pharmacy assistance program and e-Health strategy, among other programs.

Gordon also has played a role in national health care policy via his leadership of the National Association of Medicaid Directors and involvement in a variety of National Governors Association initiatives and task forces.

According to the MTSU Graduation Committee, all graduating students are required to stay for their entire commencement ceremony. Each ceremony may last up to three hours.

Graduation information -- including links to maps and driving directions to Murphy Center, cap-and-gown information, official photographs and contacts for the Registrar's Office -- is available anytime at http://www.mtsunews.com/graduation-info.