Northwest Mississippi Community College President, Dr. Gary Lee Spears, has announced that State Senator Gray Tollison of Oxford will serve as keynote speaker for the college’s 100th Commencement Exercises on Friday, May 13 at the Howard Coliseum on the Senatobia campus.
Tollison is currently serving in Mississippi’s State Senate District 9, which encompasses Lafayette and Panola counties, and has served in the Mississippi Senate since 1996.
Tollison was first elected to the Mississippi State Senate in 1995 and recently completed his 21st legislative session. He is 11th in seniority of 52 senators and has authored over 130 state laws. Tollison has previously served as Chair of the Constitution and Judiciary “B” Committees. As chair of the Judiciary “B” committee, he worked to improve teen driver safety laws, animal cruelty laws and passed the primary seat belt law that has resulted in increased seat belt usage in Mississippi.
Tollison has lead efforts to achieve significant education reform in Mississippi. In the 2013 legislation session, Tollison was instrumental in passage of a third grade literacy promotion act and an improved accountability A-F grading system. In 2014, Tollison worked to meet the challenge of the third grade reading program by including more reading coaches, adopting a statewide kindergarten readiness assessment and ensuring future elementary teachers are prepared to teach reading. Also, for the first time, Mississippi approved state supported early education funding to establish early learning collaboratives across the state serving nearly 2,000 four year olds.
As a sixth generation from Lafayette County, Tollison grew up in Oxford and is a 1982 graduate of Oxford High School. After completing his undergraduate studies at Rhodes College in 1986, he received his Juris Doctorate from The University of Mississippi. He has worked for his family law firm for the past 25 years. He and his wife, Amanda Jones Tollison, have two children—Grady, a freshman in college, and Laurel, a junior at Oxford High School.
The Associate of Arts ceremony will be held at 8 a.m.; the Career Certificate at 11:30 a.m. and the Associate of Applied Science will be held at 2:30 p.m.
For more information on Northwest’s graduation, contact the Registrar’s office at 662-562-3219.
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