Gov. Jay Nixon to Present Address at Southeast’s Spring Commencement
1,322 to Receive Degreesby News Bureau on
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 16, 2012 – Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will deliver the address at spring commencement exercises May 12 at Southeast Missouri State University.
The governor will be addressing the largest graduating class in the history of the University with 1,322 students – 1,052 undergraduates and 270 graduate students – receiving degrees at 2 p.m. in the Show Me Center.
Nixon is the state’s 55th governor and was elected by Missourians in November 2008.
“We are extremely honored to have the governor of Missouri with us on this historic occasion as Southeast Missouri State University graduates its largest ever class,” said Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University. “It is a tremendous honor for our students and their families in attendance to have Governor Nixon as our commencement speaker. They will remember this day for a lifetime.”
As governor, Nixon has put forward an agenda to make government more efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of Missouri families. He has committed to creating jobs in Missouri, to holding the line on taxes and placing a college education within reach for more Missouri students.
The governor has successfully worked with the legislature to pass several jobs initiatives to put Missourians back to work, including a bill to bring next generation automotive production to Missouri. Nixon’s call to reform Missouri’s drunk-driving laws resulted in changes to keep repeat offenders off the road.
Nixon has led the fight for families with children with special needs, including the successful push to require insurance companies to cover proven treatments for autism disorders, as well as the creation of “Partnership for Hope,” which is helping provide community-based services to those with developmental disabilities.
Nixon, the vice chair of the National Governors Association’s Economic Development and Commerce Committee, has made a strong public education system one of his chief priorities, with Missouri’s public elementary and secondary schools receiving a record amount of funding. In addition, he reached historic agreements to freeze tuition rates at Missouri’s public colleges and universities for two years in a row. The legislature also passed Nixon’s “Caring for Missourians and Training for Tomorrow” initiatives that are enabling Missouri’s colleges to produce thousands more graduates each year in high-demand fields, such as health care.
Nixon was praised for his strong leadership on the natural disasters that hit Missouri in 2011, as he moved quickly to mobilize and maximize the state resources needed to protect lives and property, and to help those Missourians affected recover and rebuild.
He has been a strong supporter of the Missouri National Guard and Missourians serving in the military, creating the “Show-Me Heroes” program to promote hiring of veterans. A member of the President’s Council of Governors, Nixon has made multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit with troops and be briefed on military operations.
During his first two years in office, Nixon visited each of Missouri’s 85 state parks and historic sites to help promote these treasured resources as recreational destinations, with a goal of reaching 20 million visitors by 2020. He also began the State Parks Youth Corps to beautify the parks and put young people to work. An avid hunter and fisherman, both Nixon and the First Lady have led a campaign to encourage young Missourians to spend more time outdoors.
Prior to becoming governor, Nixon was elected to a record four terms as Missouri’s attorney general. His settlements with the insurance industry and hospitals led to the formation of two of the largest health care foundations in state history. One of Nixon’s most successful programs, Missouri’s popular No-Call List, has become a model for states across the nation to stop telemarketing calls.
A native of De Soto, Mo., Nixon was raised in a family of public servants. His mother, the late Betty Nixon, was a teacher and served as president of the local school board. His father, Jerry Nixon, was mayor of De Soto and a judge in the community.
After earning his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri, Nixon returned to De Soto to practice as an attorney. In 1986, he was elected to the Missouri Senate, where he would represent the people of Jefferson County for six years.
Nixon and his wife, Georganne Wheeler Nixon, have two sons, Jeremiah and Willson.