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GSU to welcome back two noted alumni as graduation speakers

POSTED: April 14, 2011 6:08 p.m.

Georgia Southern University will welcome two of its alumni back to campus as Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Dan T. Cathy and Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark have been selected to serve as spring 2011 commencement speakers. The annual ceremonies are scheduled for May 13 (graduate) and May 14 (undergraduate).

Clark will serve as speaker for the university’s graduate ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m., May 13 at Hanner Fieldhouse. Cathy will serve as speaker for the undergraduate ceremony scheduled for May 14 at 9 a.m. at Allen E. Paulson Stadium.

 “Both Dan and Chris are outstanding examples of the quality of graduates that Georgia Southern University produces and we are excited to welcome them back to campus for the upcoming commencement ceremonies,” said Brooks Keel, Ph.D., president of Georgia Southern.

As president of one of the nation’s largest family owned businesses, Chick-fil-A’s Cathy represents the next generation of leadership for the Atlanta-based quick-service chicken restaurant chain founded by his father, S. Truett Cathy. Eager to incorporate his own skills and talents into the business, Cathy has taken an unconventional, yet personally and professionally rewarding approach to Chick-fil-A leadership.

Since February 2001, Cathy has served as the president and chief operating officer of the 1,540-plus unit chain.
Cathy’s nearly lifelong career at Chick-fil-A began at age 9 as he sang songs for customers and made radio commercials for the chain’s original “Dwarf House” restaurant in Hapeville.

After receiving his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Georgia Southern, Cathy returned to Chick-fil-A where he served as director of operations — opening more than 50 new Chick-fil-A restaurants throughout the country.

A native of Jonesboro, Cathy is married to the former Rhonda Palmer and has two sons, Andrew and Ross.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark, a native of Fitzgerald, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Georgia Southern and a Master of Public Administration degree from Georgia College and State University.

He served previously as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, executive director of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and also as deputy commissioner for global commerce at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

He, his wife Tiffany and son Christian reside near Peachtree City in Fayette County.

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