Lee News

Berke to Speak at Saturday's Commencement


Andy Berke, mayor of Chattanooga, will address graduates and guests at Lee University’s summer commencement on Saturday, July 30, at 10:30 a.m. in the Conn Center on Lee's campus.

As the grandson of a local lawyer, Berke grew up in a family devoted to helping others and giving back to the community of Chattanooga. After graduating with honors from Stanford University in 1990, Berke worked as a legislative assistant in the office of Tennessee Congressman Bart Gordon. Seeing Gordon’s attentiveness to constituent needs inspired Berke to go into public service as well.

Berke graduated with honors from the University of Chicago’s Law School, after which he worked as a law clerk and taught at Kansas University Law School. Elected to the State Senate in 2007 and re-elected to a second term in 2008, Berke became the Vice-Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus where he served on the Senate Education and Transportation Committees. He was also appointed to the State Workforce Development Board.

Berke was elected Mayor of Chattanooga in March 2013 with over 72 percent of the electoral vote. Since March of 2013, unemployment has dropped more than two percent and over 6,157 new jobs have come to the Chattanooga region. Not only is overall employment on the rise, foreclosure rates have decreased while Chattanooga had the third highest wage growth in the country for a mid-sized city in 2014. Berke has led the city to partner with the White House and area nonprofits to end chronic veteran homelessness by the end of 2016. To date, more than 117 veterans have been housed in the Chattanooga area.

Lee’s commencement service is the official conferral of degrees and recognition of academic achievement. Summer commencement is one of three graduation ceremonies held each year at the university, the others being held in the spring and winter. Over 180 degrees are set to be conferred Saturday, about 50 of which are for graduate students.

The graduation festivities will begin with a hooding ceremony for students earning graduate degrees. This service will take place in the Lee University Chapel on Friday, July 29, at 4:30 p.m.

After the hooding ceremony, all graduates will march in the commissioning service at 6:30 p.m. in the Conn Center. During commissioning, six graduates will share stories of their Lee experiences, and all graduates will receive Bibles to commemorate this personal milestone. Following the service, there will be a reception in Alumni Park for graduates and their guests.

Both commissioning and commencement services require tickets as seating is limited.

The hooding, commissioning, and commencement will be available for live stream viewing.

For more information about commencement exercises, contact the Academic Events Office at academicevents@leeuniversity.edu, (423) 614-8117 or visit graduation.
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