Candidates Announced For 41st Commencement At Northeast Community College

Candidates Announced For 41st Commencement At Northeast Community College

NORFOLK – The 41st Commencement of Northeast Community College will take place on Saturday, May 17, at 10 a.m. in the Cox Activities Center on the Norfolk campus.

As of Wednesday, May 7, some 881 students, including those earning double majors, and 207who completed their studies this past December, were to be listed in the commencement program.  Dr. Rod Risley, executive director of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the largest honor society in higher education, will give the commencement address.

Sarah Miller, of Norfolk, will give the student address. She will receive an associate of arts degree during the ceremony.  Richard Chrisman, information technology instructor, will give the faculty address.

Commencement Speaker Risley is a graduate of San Jacinto College in Texas, where he was elected Phi Theta Kappa National President in 1974. He joined the PTK staff headquartered in Canton, MS, in 1977 as director of alumni affairs, and in 1985 was elected the society’s only second executive director since its founding in 1918. His predecessor, Margaret Mosal, served the Society for 50 years. When Risley took the reins, Phi Theta Kappa had 500 chapters in 48 states, and 25,000 students were inducted annually. The operating budget for the organization was $500,000, with a staff of five. Today, there are over 1,280 chapters in the United States, U.S. Territories, and eight sovereign nations inducting more than 135,000 students annually. Nearly 2.5 million students have been inducted into PTK, 70% of those during Risley’s tenure. The Society’s annual budget now exceeds $16 million, with a staff of 80, operating from its International Headquarters, The Center for Excellence in Jackson, MS.

Risley’s vision has led to the creation of many innovative and award-winning programs including the Leadership Development Studies Program taught in 400 colleges;, the Gates Foundation funded web-based platform to help all community college students plan for degree completion and transfer to senior colleges; and The Competitive Edge, an innovative personal and professional development program for members. He has forged notable partnerships with USA TODAY, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Under Risley’s leadership, nearly 750 senior colleges have designated $37 million in transfer scholarships exclusively for Phi Theta Kappa members, including many Ivy League schools.

In 2010 Risley, along with CEOs from the five leading national organizations in the community college arena – American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Association of Community College Trustees, National Institute for Staff and Organization Development, Center for Community College Student Engagement, and the League for Innovation made history by collectively signing an agreement, Democracy’s Colleges: A Call to Action, committing to increase the number of community college students completing a degree or credential by five million by 2020.

Risley conceived the development of C4 – The Community College Completion Corps – students helping students complete college, and participated in the first ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. Since then, he has presented at numerous conferences in throughout the U.S, Canada, England and the Caribbean on the importance of credential and degree completion. Risley recently served on the 21st Century National Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, which issued their landmark report, Reclaiming the American Dream. He now serves on the Steering Committee for the 21st Century Initiative Implementation Team in addition to serving as co-chair and member respectively of the “Faculty Engagement” and Leadership Development” and “Community College Completion Commitment” Implementation Teams.

He serves on the AACC Commission for Academic and Student Development and is a recipient of AACC’s Distinguished Alumnus and National Leadership Awards. Risley served two terms as Chairman of the Mississippi Humanities Council. In 2013 he was appointed to serve a three-year term on the National Advisory Board for the Center for Community College Student Engagement. Risley earned a BBA from Sam Houston State University, MBA from Millsaps College, Ph.D. from Mississippi State University and has been awarded numerous honorary degrees.

Visitors approaching campus for the 10:00 a.m. ceremony can tune to 101.7 FM for parking information. The ceremony will also be broadcast live on CableOne Channel 20 in all communities served by the company, and streamed on-line at

A Touch of Brass, under the direction of Keith Krueger, will provide the musical prelude, processional, and recessional.  Dr. Linda Boullion, music department chair and director of choral activities, will sing the National Anthem.  She will be accompanied by Northeast Music Instructor Margaret Schultz.