PTK Executive Director to be JCJC Spring Commencement Keynote Speaker

Written By: Teresa Martin
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Date Submitted: 2011-05-10 13:00:50

ELLISVILLE- Jones County Junior College Spring Commencement Ceremonies will be held on Wednesday, May 11, at 10 a.m. in the A.B. Howard/Bobcat Gymnasium. Overflow seating will be available in the Fine Arts Auditorium with a simulcast of the ceremony. The ceremony will also be streamed on the web page, or
About 537 students are eligible to graduate with either an Associate in Arts degree, Associate in Applied Science degree, or Vocational Certificate. Additionally, 175 students have already met graduation requirements after the fall semester and may participate in spring commencement ceremonies.
The keynote speaker for the ceremony will be the Executive Director of the two-year international Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa. Rod Risley, Ph.D. is a graduate of San Jacinto College in Texas where he was elected as president of the college’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter in 1974. He completed his baccalaureate degree at Sam Houston State University in Texas, he earned his MBA from Millsaps College and he received his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University in community college leadership. He joined the Phi Theta Kappa Headquarters staff in Canton, Mississippi in 1977, as Director of Alumni Affairs. 
In 1985, Risley was elected the society’s second Executive Director since its founding in 1918. When Risley took the reins, Phi Theta Kappa had 500 chapters in 48 states, and 25,000 students were inducted annually. Two-and-a-half million students have been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, with nearly 75 percent of those during Risley’s tenure. The operating budget for the organization was $500,000, with a staff of five. Today, there are over 1,270 chapters in the United States, U.S. Territories, and seven sovereign nations. More than 125,000 students are inducted annually and the Society’s budget exceeds $14 million.
Dr. Risley’s keynote address will focus on his admiration for college “completers”. In his editorial on the Community College Completion Challenge or C4 project, Risley explains having a community/junior college degree will be a great asset to the college graduates’ future endeavors, leading to financial opportunities. He further explains in the C4 project editorial, “Those earning an associate degree will earn up to $400,000 more over their lifetime than those without a degree. Those earning a degree or certificate are more likely to be hired and less likely to become unemployed than those without.”
The purpose of the C4 project according to Risley is to evoke, “A sea change in philosophy (which) is needed in our community colleges in order to meet the lofty goals of doubling the number of completers by 2020….This is a call to action to our community colleges, and our nation’s economic prosperity and democracy are hanging in the balance.” 
Risley’s vision has led to the creation of many innovative and award-winning programs including the Leadership Development Studies Program taught in 450 colleges;, the web-based platform to help all community college students plan for transfer to senior colleges; and The Competitive Edge, an innovative professional development program for members. He also is the founding editor of Note Bene, the only nationally circulated honors anthology for community college students, and serves as moderator for the Society’s highly-acclaimed Honors Seminars.
The Phi Theta Kappa executive director has forged partnerships with USA Today to establish the All-USA Community College Academic Teams, the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation to establish the Coca- Cola Community College Academic Team and Leaders of Promise program, providing $400,000 in stipends to community college students, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to increase from 10 to 50, $30,000 to community college transfer students, 735 senior colleges to designate transfer scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa members valued at $37 million, and the Hites Family Community College Scholarship Foundation to establish a $2 million scholarship endowment for awarding 12,  $7,500 Phi Theta Kappa transfer scholarships. Phi Theta Kappa awards more than $1 million scholarships and stipends to students and faculty each year.
Recently Risley let the effort to establish the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation, which in its first three years has raised over $5 million. Risley also serves on numerous national education commissions and boards concentrating on public policy issues related to education and advancement of the humanities.
For more information about JCJC go to the web page, and for more information about Phi Theta Kappa and the C4 project  


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