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More than 1,000 to graduate from UNA in six ceremonies

FLORENCE – In an annual rite of spring in the Shoals, more than 1,000 students are set to graduate this year from the University of North Alabama. It will take six ceremonies May 12-13 to allow all graduates their time in the spotlight.

Dr. Eric G. Mackey, Alabama State Superintendent of Education, will provide the address for the May 12 ceremonies. State Sen. Arthur Orr will provide the address for the first three ceremonies May 13. Dr. Ron Patterson, vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UNA, will provide the address for the final ceremony – 4:30 p.m., May 13. 

“Our spring commencement ceremonies are the largest at the university, and we take pride in celebrating each student as they achieve this benchmark of success in their higher education journey,” said UNA President Dr. Ken Kitts. “Our speakers also provide unique perspectives that provide life lessons and help our graduates think broadly about future opportunities.”

Orr is chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee and chairman of the Boards of Trustees of the Alabama School for Cyber Technology and Engineering and of Athens State University. 

Since being named state superintendent in 2018, Mackey has helped increase high school graduation and college and career readiness rates, with more than 87 percent of high school students enrolled in one career technical education class. Alabama ranked in the top six states for computer science in 2021. In 2022, Alabama was named first in the South-Central region for workforce development.

Patterson is the vice president of DEI and the director of the “What Will Your Influence Be?” Presidential Mentors Academy at UNA. During his years at UNA, he has served as vice president for enrollment management, chief enrollment officer, and special assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion. Patterson was recently named the 12th president of Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb., a role he will assume July 1. 

“I have enjoyed my seven-year tenure at North Alabama very much,” Patterson said. “It has been a pleasure to be part of President Kitts’ Executive Council and to have been part of the university’s enrollment growth by 11 percent during my time as the chief enrollment officer as well as the development and implementation of the University’s Strategic Diversity Plan as vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

“It is bittersweet to leave, but I look forward to the opportunities that await at Chadron State College.”

Patterson also serves as Vice President of the Alabama Association of Higher Education Diversity Officers, composed of representatives of the state’s 14 public universities.

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