Trio of leaders will address MTSU grads

A trio of leaders unique in their fields will help 2,375 spring 2016 MTSU graduates celebrate reaching their educational goals in three ceremonies set Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7.

Tennessee State Historian Carroll Van West, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and Home Box Office network division president Kary Antholis are the guest speakers for this spring’s commencement ceremonies inside the university’s Murphy Center.
West, a longtime MTSU professor and director of the university’s Center for Historic Preservation, will address the university’s first separate ceremony for students earning their doctorate, master’s and education specialist degrees. The College of Graduate Studies event is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 6.
Barry, who is the first woman and the first Metro Council member elected Nashville mayor, is the guest speaker for the university’s 9 a.m. undergraduate commencement ceremony May 7.
Antholis, who is president of HBO Miniseries and Cinemas Programming, will speak at the 2 p.m. May 7 undergraduate ceremony.
Students from the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, the Jones College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Media and Entertainment will receive their degrees in the May 7 morning ceremony.
Students in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, and the University College will receive their degrees in the May 7 afternoon event.
MTSU’s commencement ceremonies are always free and open to the public. Friends, families and supporters who can’t attend in person can watch each ceremony live online May 6 and 7 via streaming video.
The live commencement coverage will begin about 15 minutes before each ceremony starts; visit for details about the video feed.
MTSU’s Registrar’s Office reported this week that 2,030 of the 2,375 students set to receive their degrees May 7 are undergraduates, while 345 students will be presented with graduate degrees May 6, including 312 master’s candidates, 16 education-specialist degree recipients and 17 doctoral candidates. Three graduate students also will receive graduate certificates.
Graduate ceremony speaker West, a history department faculty member since 1985, teaches courses in architectural history, historic preservation, and state and local history. He received the MTSU Foundation’s 2015 Career Achievement Award, considered the pinnacle of recognition for the university’s finest professors, last August.
West has served as director at the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area since 2002. He also serves as co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and as a Tennessee representative on the National Board of Advisors of National Trust for Historic Preservation. In addition, West has a decades-long career of fieldwork on sites across the South and West, where he focuses on 19th- and 20th-century history as well as architecture and material culture.
You can find more details on the College of Graduate Studies’ May 6 commencement ceremony at
Undergraduate morning speaker Barry won the Nashville mayoral race in a September 2015 runoff election after serving two terms as an at-large Metro Council member. A 25-year resident of the city, she formerly worked as an ethics compliance officer and consultant in the telecommunications and health care sectors.
She is focusing as mayor on Metro Nashville public schools’ educational outcomes, a state and regional transportation partnership, affordable housing and economic growth. Barry also has convened the first of multiple planned youth violence summits to help the community address issues related to teen and young adult violence.
Undergrad afternoon speaker Antholis first joined HBO in 1992 as director of documentary programming, then left in 1994 to produce and direct the Oscar- and Emmy-winning documentary “One Survivor Remembers” about Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein. Returning to HBO in 1997, he became senior vice president of HBO Films & Miniseries, serving as program executive for the multiple Emmy-winning miniseries “Angels in America” and others.
His programming credits at HBO and Cinemax include the adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s bestselling novel “The Casual Vacancy,” the Cinemax original series “The Knick,” and the award-winning miniseries “Mildred Pierce” and “John Adams.” A former practicing attorney and history teacher, Antholis’ current projects include HBO’s adaptation of the BBC miniseries “Criminal Justice” and Cinemax’s “Strike Back” and “Banshee” series.
MTSU’s Graduation Committee noted that all graduating students must stay for their entire commencement ceremony. Each ceremony may last up to two hours.
Guests attending each ceremony are being asked to arrive early to ease traffic congestion around Murphy Center and to help ensure comfortable seating for everyone inside Hale Arena. Motorists should avoid Middle Tennessee Boulevard because of ongoing construction; route suggestions are available at
Graduation information — including links to maps and driving directions to MTSU, cap-and-gown information, official photographs and contacts for the Registrar’s Office — is available anytime at