Corlis P. Cummings, the interim chancellor of the University System of Georgia, will be the speaker for the university’s fall semester commencement Dec. 17 in Stegeman Coliseum.
Cummings will speak at a 9:30 a.m. ceremony for seniors receiving bachelor’s degrees. A second ceremony for students receiving doctoral and master’s degrees will be held at 2:30 p.m. in the coliseum. The speaker will be Julian M. Earls, director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
The holder of undergraduate and law degrees from UGA, Cummings was named interim chancellor in August after former Chancellor Thomas Meredith accepted a position in Mississippi. She is the first woman and the first person of color to lead Georgia’s university system, composed of 35 public colleges and universities around the state.
She also continues her responsibilities as senior vice chancellor of support services, a position she has held since September 2000. In that position, she oversees several functions for the system including legal affairs, human resources and the Office of Sponsored Funds and Special Projects.
Cummings joined the university system in 1995 as assistant vice chancellor for legal affairs, handling legal transactions for the Board of Regents and system institutions and working with the state attorney general’s office and other state agencies. An Atlanta native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from UGA and attended Washington University School of Law before earning her law degree from UGA.
Earls, the graduate commencement speaker, oversees all operations of the Glenn Research Center, which conducts research and technology and systems development in aeronautical propulsion, space propulsion, space power, space communications and microgravity sciences.
With a budget of about $773 million and a workforce of 1,920 civil service employees and 1,300 support service contractors, the center includes 24 major facilities and 500 specialized research facilities.
Earls began his NASA career at the Glenn Center in 1965 and was deputy director of the center before being appointed director in 2003. He wrote NASA’s first health physics guides and has written 28 publications for technical and educational journals. A visiting professor at numerous universities, he has twice been awarded NASA medals for exceptional achievement and outstanding leadership, and has received the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive.
“We are fortunate to have a person of Corlis Cummings’s background and experience providing leadership at the University System office during this interim period,” says UGA President Michael F. Adams. “Julian Earls possesses a wealth of experience in scientific research and teaching, two areas of great importance in graduate education. We are fortunate to have these outstanding speakers for our fall commencement.”