Campus News

UGA spring Commencement features Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and former Provost Karen Holbrook

Athens, Ga. – United States Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will be the speaker at the University of Georgia spring undergraduate Commencement exercise Friday, May 13 at 7 p.m. in Sanford Stadium.

Karen A. Holbrook, senior vice president for Research, Innovation and Global Affairs and professor of molecular medicine at the University of South Florida, will deliver the Commencement address at the graduate ceremony on the same day at 10 a.m. in Stegeman Coliseum. Holbrook was UGA’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost from 1998 to 2002.

“I am pleased and honored these two very good friends of the University of Georgia accepted our invitation to speak at the spring Commencement,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “In many ways, Karen Holbrook’s vision and leadership during her tenure as provost set the stage for the successes the university now enjoys in research, innovation and technology transfer. Ray Mabus has long been a personal friend of mine and has become a friend of the university during the process of transferring the Navy School property back to UGA for a medical campus. I very much look forward to their remarks.”

As the 75th secretary, Mabus leads America’s Navy and Marine Corps, overseeing almost 900,000 individuals and an annual budget in excess of $150 billion. In his position, Mabus is responsible for all affairs of the Department of the Navy, including recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training and mobilizing. He is accountable for the formulation and implementation of policies and programs consistent with the national security objectives established by the president and the secretary of defense.Additionally, he oversees the construction, outfitting and repair of naval ships, equipment and facilities.

A native of Ackerman, Miss., Mabus received his undergraduate degree from the University of Mississippi, his graduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and his law degree from Harvard Law School.He has served in a variety of top posts in government and the private sector, and in 1988, he was elected governor of Mississippi, stressing education and job creation during his term in office.In 1994, Mabus was appointed U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by President Bill Clinton. He also has worked as chairman and CEO of Foamex, a large major manufacturing company, and he served as a surface warfare officer in the U.S. Navy aboard the cruiser USS Little Rock.

In June, 2010, President Barack Obama charged Mabus with preparing a long-term recovery plan for the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which was submitted in September 2010 and met with broad bi-partisan support.Other accolades for Mabus include the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Civilian Award and the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award.

Holbrook has had an extensive research and academic career.Following her role at UGA, she served as president of Ohio State University for five years. Prior to these positions, Holbrook was vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Florida, and associate dean for research and professor of biological structure and medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.She has served on the boards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Council of Education, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and the Association of American Universities, among others.She participates on numerous advisory panels and councils for the National Institutes of Health, and has received NIH’s prestigious MERIT Award. Holbrook currently serves on several boards for such organizations as the Institute for International Education and Southeastern Universities Research Association.

Holbrook earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a doctorate in biological structure at the University of Washington School of Medicine, where she also served as a faculty member and postdoctoral fellow in dermatology.

Commencement ceremonies will be held for students who are anticipated to complete degree requirements at the end of the spring 2011 semester. Both ceremonies will be broadcast live on channel 15 of the university and Charter cable systems and streamed live at

The undergraduate ceremonies will be conducted “rain or shine.” In the case of severe inclement weather, defined as rain accompanied by high winds, thunder and lightning, the undergraduate ceremony will be moved to Saturday, May 14 at 9:30 a.m. at Sanford Stadium.

For more information on UGA’s Commencement exercises, see