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Speakers set for Fall Commencement

Commencement speakers representing diverse fields have been chosen to address students at Lamar University’s Fall 2016 commencement ceremonies held December 16 and 17 in the Montagne Center.

Vernice Monroe will address graduates and guests during the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. Monroe, who serves as liaison to the president on Multicultural Enhancement at Lamar University, previously served as director of LU’s social work program and received the honorary title of Professor Emeritus following her retirement from teaching in 2008 after four decades of service. Monroe serves on the seven-member Beaumont Independent School District Board of Managers, which is comprised of community leaders entrusted to govern the district. Monroe was also named Child Advocate of the Year during her term as board president of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

Steve Moore will speak to the College of Fine Arts and Communications graduates Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. With more than 25 years as a tour promoter in the rock, country and Christian music industries, Moore served as the CEO of the Country Music Association from 2010 to 2013 after serving as president and chairman of the CMA Board of Directors in 2009 and 2010. Moore, who graduated from Lamar in 1979, originally had hoped to become a high school band director until one fortuitous night in 1975 when he negotiated free admission into a Blood, Sweat, and Tears concert in exchange for unloading and setting up the band’s equipment. He has been involved in the music industry since, working with names like George Strait, Faith Hill, and Reba McEntire. Moore is also the founder and chair of The Shalom Foundation, a faith-based charity dedicated to providing medical and surgical care for Guatemalan children from birth to age 17, and takes regular mission trips to Guatemala.

Sina K. Nejad will address graduates during the College of Engineering ceremony Dec. 17 at 8:30 a.m. Chairman of the Lamar University Civil Engineering Advisory Council, Nejad is a structural engineer with more than 25 years of experience in construction and building and is the founder and president of Beaumont’s Sigma Engineers Inc. He is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers, is a charter member of the Structural Engineering Institute, a founding member of the Architectural Engineering Institute and president of the Sabine chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. He serves on a variety of boards, acting as chairman of the City of Beaumont Planning and Zoning Commission and Building Code Board of Adjustment and Appeals, and as a member of the Lamar University Foundation Board of Directors and CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth Hospital Advisory Board. He is the past president and current director of the Anayat House, a member of the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce and a member and past president of the Symphony of Southeast Texas. Nejad received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from LU.

Kevin J. Roy will offer his entrepreneurial wisdom to graduates during the College of Business ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. on Dec. 17. Roy, a 1985 and 1993 business graduate of LU, is the founder, chairman and CEO of InterFlow Factors Corporation, a multi-million-dollar asset-based lending firm specializing in accounts receivable factoring. He began the company almost 30 years ago. Roy and his wife Jill, a 1990 graduate of LU, are also owners of commercial real estate concerns RKJ Investments LLC and Taormina Properties LLC. Roy prides himself in using his entrepreneurial skills to propel socially responsible companies and assist his clients. Beyond business ventures, Roy has served as board chair-elect of Christus Hospitals of Southeast Texas, Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas, and serves as president of Inspire, Encourage, Achieve—an organization aimed at supporting youth involved in the juvenile justice system—and the Rotary Club of Beaumont, where he served as the first president of African descent in the club’s history. Roy has also served on the Lamar University Foundation.

James M. Simmons, former president of LU, will address College of Education and Human Development graduates at their ceremony beginning at 5 p.m. on Dec. 17. Simmons served as president of the university for 14 years (1999-2013), leading the school into a new era of dynamic growth before returning to the Mary Morgan Moore Department of Music as faculty. During his tenure as president, Simmons earned numerous awards in education, leadership, community service and music, including the Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Newsmaker of the Decade from the Press Club of Southeast Texas, and the induction into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame. Under his leadership, LU launched its first comprehensive campaign, “Investing in the Future,” which raised over $132 million for LU by Simmons’ retirement. Currently, Simmons serves as the president of the BISD Board of Managers.