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Dec. 14, 2021

Fall semester graduates will be celebrated during five ceremonies

U.S. Senator Gary Peters headlines a group of five highly accomplished individuals who will address graduates at the Fall 2021 Commencement ceremonies Dec. 17-18 at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. This is the first time MSU has held five ceremonies for a fall semester.

“I couldn’t be prouder of these graduates,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “Through a couple of particularly challenging years, these Spartans persevered to earn degrees that will greatly enhance their careers and lives.With their talent, energy and engagement, as alumni they will contribute a great deal to their communities and to the world.”  

Peters will address the master’s and educational specialist graduates at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 17. He will also receive an honorary degree in laws. Later that day at 3:30 p.m., Celeste Clark, an MSU graduate and former senior executive of the Kellogg Company, will speak to doctoral recipients. She will also receive an honorary degree in humanities.  

Since all degree-level graduates from the summer 2021 semesters were given the option to attend in September or December, there will be three baccalaureate ceremonies based on college.

  • Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. – The colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lyman Briggs, Natural Science and Nursing will be addressed by Amy Yoder, who has more than 20 years in the agricultural industry. She will also receive an honorary degree in agriculture.
  • Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. – The colleges of Arts and Letters, Communication Arts and Sciences, and Social Science will be addressed by one of the nation’s leading authorities on religious liberty, Douglas Laycock. He will also receive an honorary degree in laws.
  • Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. – The colleges of Business, Education, Engineering, James Madison and Music as well as the Residential College in Arts and Humanities will be addressed by Craig Menear, chief executive officer of The Home Depot. He will also receive an honorary degree in business.  

For the safety of attendees, no bags or purses will be allowed in Breslin Center for any commencement ceremonies. Cameras and camcorders are permitted, but cases are prohibited. No food or beverages — including bottled water — will be allowed, and this applies to graduates, guests and faculty. The Breslin Center will offer a limited concessions menu during the ceremonies. Additional prohibited items include noisemakers, selfie sticks, pets, signs and weapons of any form. The Breslin Center is a smoke-free facility.  

Metal detectors will screen all attendees, so please plan accordingly. For safety, all individuals are required to wear appropriate face coverings indoors in all campus buildings and other MSU facilities in East Lansing and throughout the state.  

The events will also be live-streamed and can be watched via MSU’s commencement website.  

Biographies of the speakers are below in alphabetical order.  

Celeste Clark
Clark is the principal of Abraham Clark Consulting, LLC, health and regulatory policy consulting firm, that consults on health policy, regulatory affairs and leadership development. Previously she spent more than 30 years with the Kellogg Company, retiring as senior vice president of global public policy and external relations and chief sustainability officer. Clark also served as president of the Kellogg Corporate Citizenship Fund, Kellogg’s philanthropic entity, and was responsible for Kellogg’s corporate social responsibility initiatives which focused on community engagement, economic development, arts, education, health and wellness. She is an adjunct professor in the MSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.  

Clark earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Southern University, Master of Science from Iowa State University, and a Doctorate in Food Science from the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Douglas Laycock
Laycock is considered the nation’s leading authority on the law of religious liberty and on the law of remedies—the law of what the winner of a lawsuit gets and what the court can do to solve the legal problem. Laycock has taught and written about these topics for more than four decades at the law schools of the University of Chicago, University of Texas, University of Michigan, and most recently, the University of Virginia where he is the Robert E. Scott Distinguished Professor of Law. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Laycock earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from MSU and was a member of the Honors College. He earned a law degree from the University of Chicago.

Craig Menear
Menear is chairman and chief executive officer of The Home Depot. In his more than 20 years with the company, he has held roles spanning merchandising, supply chain, store operations, sourcing, marketing and online. Prior to joining The Home Depot, he worked in a variety of roles in mass, home center and specialty retailing. In addition, Menear serves on the board of directors of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, Atlanta Committee for Progress, 3DE by Junior Achievement of Georgia and Camp Southern Ground. 

Menear earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the MSU Eli Broad College of Business. In 2017, he was honored with MSU’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his business accomplishments and commitment to philanthropic initiatives.

Gary Peters
Peters has represented the State of Michigan in the U.S. Senate since 2015. He has also served in the U.S. House of Representatives, Michigan State Senate and Rochester Hills City Council as well as being the Michigan State Lottery Commissioner. In addition, Peters worked in the private sector for more than 20 years as a financial advisor and in a variety of management positions with two major financial service firms. Peters also served in the U.S. Navy Reserve where he earned a seabee combat warfare specialist designation and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. After 9/11, he volunteered again for drilling status and served overseas as part of his reserve duty.

Peters earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Alma College; a Master of Business Administration in finance from University of Detroit Mercy, a Master of Political Science from Wayne State University, a Master of Philosophy with a focus on the ethics of development from MSU and a law degree from Wayne State University. He also earned a diploma from the College of Naval Command and Staff, U.S. Naval War College.

Amy Yoder
Yoder has been president and chief executive officer of Anuvia Plant Nutrients, a manufacturer of enhanced efficiency fertilizer for the turf and agricultural industries, since 2015. Previously she held key roles with Arysta LifeScience, Monsanto and Spectrum Brands and served on boards with CropLife America and RISE (Responsible Industry Sound Environment). In 2018, Yoder was selected by the i4 Business Women’s Inspired Leadership Awards as a 2018 honoree for the “Spirit of Innovation.” This award celebrates six nominees who are proven business leaders in Central Florida. She was also awarded the MSU Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Yoder earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural technology and systems management with an emphasis of study in crop and soil science, from the MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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