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Mayor Jim Strickland is Speaker at CBU Commencement

MEMPHIS — The Board of Trustees of Christian Brothers University (CBU) announced that Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland will deliver the address at the University’s 2019 commencement exercises on Saturday, May 11. The ceremony, the last at which current President John Smarrelli will preside before his retirement in June, will begin at 9:00 a.m. at Signaigo Field on CBU’s campus, weather permitting. There, the University will confirm associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees to 411 participating graduates in the fields of liberal arts, accounting, business, engineering, and the sciences. 

Since 2016, Mayor Strickland has led the city of Memphis in pursuing economic development, improved public safety, and greater government transparency. He has helped to retain and expand the investment of major economic partners such as ServiceMaster, FedEx, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and prioritized rebuilding the core of Memphis and its neighborhoods.  

Mayor Strickland was also instrumental in launching the 800 Initiative, an unprecedented, intensive program to empower minority-owned businesses in Memphis and increase equity in the city’s economy with lead partners FedEx, Shelby County, Start Co., Epicenter, and Christian Brothers University. CBU will confer the honoris causa (honorary doctorate) on Mayor Strickland in recognition of these accomplishments. 

“We are pleased to have Mayor Jim Strickland with us for this year’s commencement exercises,” said CBU President Dr. John Smarrelli Jr. “He is part of our shared Lasallian tradition as a 1982 graduate of Christian Brothers High School. As mayor, his focus on improving the local economy shows momentum – to use one of his favorite Memphis descriptors – and many of his other initiatives like the Summer Youth Job Program, the Universal Pre-K by 2020 initiative, increased contracts for minority and female-owned businesses, and reducing the homeless rate perfectly align with CBU’s values of quality education, social justice, and inclusive community. As the graduates of 2019 leave our campus to make their mark in the world, we are grateful that the mayor is celebrating with us. We look forward to his message of inspiration.” 

Additional details about the CBU's 2018 Commencement are available on the University website at The ceremony will be streamed on that webpage and at

For additional information, contact: 

Deborah Blanchard  
Vice President, Communications and Marketing 
(901) 321-3271 

Posted by Cory Dugan at 9:03 AM