Alumnus, naval admiral to speak at Commencement

Miles Flora, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

Berry College announced that this year’s Commencement speaker will be Berry alumnus Rear Admiral Vincent L. Griffith of the United States Navy. 

Vice President of Enrollment Management and Interim Chief of Staff Gary Waters explained the process of selecting the College’s Commencement speaker.

“The College looks for someone who can uniquely inspire graduating Berry seniors,” Waters said. Waters also explained that it isn’t just a matter of getting a well-known individual to speak, but also of finding someone whose life story aligns with the Berry mission.

Griffith graduated from Berry in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Though it is common for alumni to return to Berry’s campus, Waters explained that there was some difficulty in securing Griffith as the Commencement speaker.

“We’re just delighted that Admiral Griffith is available, which quite frankly was a challenge for him,” Waters said. “He was supposed to be on another part of the world, but he’s been able to rearrange some things to speak.”

Griffith currently serves as the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) Director of Logistic Operations. Prior to assuming his current position, he served as Commander Naval Supply Systems Command Global Logistics Support, where he was responsible for providing an extensive array of integrated global logistics and contracting services to Navy and joint operational units.

“I think we have succeeded very highly this year in our Commencement speaker, Vincent Griffith,” Waters said. 

Waters has known Griffith for nearly forty years and spoke highly of his story, which he believes will resonate with current Berry students.

“I think what’s particularly compelling of Vincent being the speaker this year is the fact that he was a Berry student who, in my mind, in so many ways embodies the Berry mission,” Waters said. “Like many students, he needed grants, loans and scholarships to get through Berry. He worked very hard in the work program and the characteristics that he applied at Berry are the ones that led to a really fantastic and remarkable career.”

In addition to announcing Griffith as the Commencement speaker, Berry also announced this year’s student Commencement speaker, senior Valerie McLure. McLure will be graduating this spring with a 4.0 GPA and a B.S. in Chemistry. 

“The student speaker is selected by the Provost and the Vice President of Student Affairs, and they look at the top five graduating students based on their GPA and a complete range of experiences and other considerations the students had while at Berry, and make a decision to select one of those five who is the most representative of the student body,” Waters said. 

Interim Provost Andrew Bressette and Dean of Students Debbie Heida chose McLure from the top five students graduating with the highest GPAs.

“We look at the whole of their Berry experience and choose one from that group,” Heida said. 

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