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First commencement ceremonies in Convocation Center to take place May 4-5

Spring Commencement 2018
The new Convocation Center on the UNG Dahlonega Campus will be the setting for three commencement ceremonies on May 4-5, with a total of 1.250 graduates participating in graduation.

The newest jewel in the University of North Georgia (UNG) crown of buildings, the Convocation Center on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus, is the setting for three commencement ceremonies for graduates from all UNG campuses on May 4-5.

The 103,000-square-foot, 3,600-seat multiuse facility opened earlier this spring. A total of 1,250 graduates are anticipated to participate in commencement ceremonies.

Three speakers, Gen. Stephen Townsend and Bill Mitchell, both UNG alumni, and Yvette Daniels will serve as keynote speakers.

Stephen Townsend, a four-star general, is the keynote speaker for the College of Arts & Letters commencement ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday, May 4.

Townsend is commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Previously, Townsend was the commanding general of XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He also commanded the 10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum, New York.

From August 2016 until September 2017, he served as the commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR).  During his command of CJTF-OIR, Townsend oversaw the liberation of 1.6 million people and 40,000 square kilometers of Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL)-held territory, including Mosul, the ISIL capital in Iraq. Townsend also had multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Townsend earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from UNG in 1982 and has two master's degrees. He has a number of awards and decorations, including the Combat Infantryman Badge (with star), Combat Action Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and Ranger Tab.

Townsend is only the second four-star general to have graduated from UNG; Gen. William "Lipp" Livsey, for whom the drill field at the Dahlonega Campus is named, was the first.

Yvette Daniels, director of university relations for the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), will be the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony for graduates of the College of Education, College of Health Sciences & Professions, and University College at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 5.

In her current role, Daniels is responsible for establishing effective college and university relationships through the promotion of public health programs at the state and local level.

She previously served as the director of Health Promotion for DPH, overseeing maternal and child health, health promotion and disease prevention, the Volunteer Health Care Program, and the Office of Health Equity. Prior to that, Daniels was the deputy director of Legislative and External Affairs, where she was responsible for the development and direction of the legislative goals and agenda for areas impacting public health. She also served as the director of legislation and policy for the Division of Public Health during its tenure in the Department of Human Resources, and also served as legal services manager.

Before joining DPH, Daniels was an assistant state attorney with the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville, Florida. In that role, she was assigned to the Sexual Assault Unit with responsibility for prosecuting sex offenses against children and women. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Georgia and her juris doctorate from the University Of Georgia School of Law.

The commencement ceremony for graduates of the Mike Cottrell College of Business, College of Science & Mathematics, and the Lewis F. Rogers Institute for Environmental & Spatial Analysis will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday. Bill Mitchell, the former president of Dunkin Brands International, will be the keynote speaker.

Prior to Dunkin’ Brands International, Mitchell served as president of Baskin-Robbins U.S. and Canada. He also worked for Papa John’s International for 10 years, serving as president of global operations for the $3 billion dollar company with 3,400 restaurants in 29 countries.

Mitchell held various operations roles with AFC Enterprises Inc., which owns Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Church's Chicken, including the role of senior director of operations.

Earlier in his career, Mitchell worked for the RM Restaurant Group as vice president of operations and for PepsiCo as part of the KFC national management team.

Before entering the restaurant industry, Mitchell served as a captain in the U.S. Army.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree from UNG in 1986.

Tickets are required by guests for all ceremonies; each graduate will be allotted 7 tickets. Students who met the application deadline for spring graduation can pick up graduation packets, which include their allotment of tickets, at their home campus bookstore the week before graduation.

Graduates should read through all information and instructions given in the graduation packets, and arrive 45 minutes prior to graduation to prepare and line-up for the ceremony. Graduates and guests should also allow extra time for traffic and parking when arriving for ceremonies and should note the change in venue.

Guests and graduates are asked to share their success via social media using #UNG18grad; posts and photos using the hashtag can be viewed before, during and after the weekend's ceremonies on the UNG commencement website. 

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