Dr. Eric Mackey, left, Sen. Arthur Orr, and Dr. Ron Patterson will provide the commencement addresses May 12-13.

Spring Commencement to Graduate More than 1,000

Apr. 24, 2023

Michelle R. Eubanks , UNA, at meubanks@una.edu, 256.765.4392

FLORENCE, AL – More than 1,000 students are set to graduate from the University of North Alabama on May 12-13 during six ceremonies that will take place in Norton Auditorium. 

Dr. Eric G. Mackey, Alabama State Superintendent of Education, will provide the address for the May 12 ceremonies. Sen. Arthur Orr of Alabama Senate District 3 will provide the address for the first three ceremonies on May 13. Dr. Ron Patterson, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at UNA, will provide the address for the final ceremony set for 4:30 p.m. on May 13. 

“Our Spring Commencement ceremonies are the largest at the University, and we take pride in celebrating each student as they achieve this benchmark of success in their higher education journey,” said Dr. Ken Kitts, UNA’s President. “Our speakers also provide unique perspectives that provide life lessons and help our graduates think broadly about future opportunities.”

After graduating law school, Senator Arthur Orr joined the U.S. Peace Corps, serving in a remote Himalayan village in Nepal. Upon completion of his service, he returned to Decatur where he practiced law. He eventually felt led back overseas, this time traveling under the auspices of Habitat for Humanity International, where he participated in a new Habitat program in Bangladesh that helped build more than 2,000 houses. 

Since his election to the Alabama Senate in 2006, Senator Orr has sponsored, and his colleagues have passed, legislation to lower the high school student drop-out rate, to improve campaign finance reporting, and to modernize language in the state constitution, along with scores of other laws to streamline governmental services and make Alabama a better place to live. 

Presently, Sen. Orr serves as a Chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee and Chairman of the Boards of Trustees of the Alabama School for Cyber Technology and Engineering and of Athens State University. He has received numerous national, state, and local awards for his service. 

Dr. Eric G. Mackey began his career as a high school science teacher, then transitioned into middle school, where he became principal and later district superintendent. He later went on to serve as Executive Director of the School Superintendents of Alabama for eight years.

Since being named the State Superintendent in April of 2018, Dr. Mackey has focused on the initiatives that have to do with his strategic plan, Alabama Achieves. During his time in office, high school graduation and college and career readiness rates have increased, with more than 87 percent of high school students enrolled in one career technical education class. Alabama ranked in the top six states for Computer Science in 2021. In 2022, Alabama was named first in the South-Central region for workforce development. 

Mackey currently serves on more than 30 boards, including the Southern Regional Education Board and the Alabama Public School and College Authority. He also serves in leadership positions on multiple boards, including as Chair of the Alabama-Korea Education and Economic Partnership and as Commissioner for the Education Commission of the States. 

Dr. Ron K. Patterson is the Vice President of DEI and the director of the What Will Your Influence Be? Presidential Mentors Academy at UNA. Patterson’s passion lies in his efforts to resource discussion and dialogue to enhance the understanding of multicultural concepts for students, faculty, and staff. During his six-year tenure, he has served as vice president for enrollment management, chief enrollment officer, and special assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion. Patterson has recently been named the 12th President of Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb. He will assume that role July 1. 

Along with all he does at UNA, Patterson also serves as Vice President of the Alabama Association of Higher Education Diversity Officers, composed of representatives of the state’s 14 public universities. He possesses a wealth of experience in enrollment management, program development, higher education administration, and leadership; student, faculty, and staff development; and accreditation. 

Patterson now volunteers at local community-related functions and speaks frequently to civic and professional groups, agencies, and organizations. He serves on the Executive Board of Directors for Shoals Scholar Dollars program; the Shoals Chamber of Commerce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Council.


About The University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering credential, certificate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in the colleges of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering; Business and Technology; Education and Human Sciences; and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. The first-choice University for more than 10,000 on-campus and online students, UNA is on a bucolic campus in Florence, Alabama, part of the historic and vibrant Shoals region. Lions Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I’s ASUN Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/