May 12, 2017 – In a historic sesquicentennial year for Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) located in Raleigh, N.C., leading public affairs expert and civil rights advocate, Lamell McMorris, was selected by SAU to deliver the spring commencement address for the graduating class of 2017. The ceremony will take place on May 13 at 9 a.m. on campus at the Julia Chester Emery Gymnasium. McMorris will also be presented with an honorary doctorate degree during the ceremony.
SAU, a designated member of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, was chartered in 1867 by the Episcopal Church of North Carolina with a mission to provide secondary education to freed slaves. Since then, SAU has evolved into a four-year liberal arts university servicing the education and growth of men and women of all backgrounds.
“Having Mr. McMorris, an accomplished entrepreneur and national leader as commencement speaker, couldn’t be more timely,” stated SAU President Dr. Everett B. Ward. “As we celebrate the university’s 150-year anniversary, it is critical that we focus on the defining pillars that cement the foundation of the university’s future: entrepreneurship, STEM, public health and mass communications. Mr. McMorris’ focus on the future and spirit of entrepreneurship is just what we need to invigorate a new, dynamic class of Falcon leaders.”
McMorris, CEO of the Washington, D.C. based companies Perennial Strategy Group and Perennial Sports, and founding principal of Greenlining Realty USA, is often cited for his instrumental work in opening doors of opportunity through broad based coalition-building, and for his advocacy for diversity, access and inclusion. It’s this style of leadership that he brings to the board room as an active trustee at Miles College and his alma mater Morehouse College, coupled with his passion for mentoring young men and women who often seek him out for his sage advice and approachable appeal, that has afforded him a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by secondary education institutions and college graduates alike.
“I’ve known what it’s like to live on a friend’s couch as I charted my own waters in our nation’s capital, and I’ve also experienced what it’s like to be on the sidelines during the Super Bowl giving a pep talk to an athlete who’s preparing for the biggest game of his life. I couldn’t have had one experience without the other,” McMorris remarked. “Life will be uncomfortable and inconvenient at times, but what matters is perseverance, perspective and passion, and I have no doubt that the forefathers and foremothers of this great institution who passed through these halls 150 years ago would agree. President Ward has shared with me how remarkable the SAU class of 2017 is, and I am deeply honored to stand before them and with them.”