MERIDIAN, Miss.—The Phil Hardin Foundation’s new executive director will deliver the commencement address Friday [Dec 11] at Mississippi State University-Meridian.
Lloyd Gray became head of the Lauderdale County-based education philanthropy in July after a long career in Mississippi newspapers. Previously, he served for more than two decades as executive editor of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo.
The 11 a.m. graduation program takes place at the downtown MSU Riley Center for Performing Arts and Education. Some 90 students are candidates for summer and fall semester degrees.
Born in Cleveland, Gray was reared in Oxford and Meridian, graduating from Meridian High School in 1972. While in high school, he began working as a Meridian Star sports writer.
After receiving a history degree from Millsaps College in 1976, he completed an internship with the Washington Post before returning to Mississippi as a reporter with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville.
Gray then moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to join the staff of Biloxi’s Sun Herald, where he moved over a 12-year tenure up the ranks from reporter to capitol correspondent, managing editor and editorial page editor. After leaving newspapers for a time to serve in state government as assistant secretary of state for policy development, he returned to Meridian in 1990 for a two-year stint as the Star’s editor.
Long active in and former president of the Mississippi Press Association, Gray is a four-time recipient of the trade organization’s annual J. Oliver Emmerich Award as the state’s top editorial writer. Throughout his newspaper career, the staffs he led consistently were recognized statewide and regionally for journalistic enterprise and excellence.
A lifelong Episcopalian, he has been a church and civic affairs leader in communities where he and wife Sally have lived. They are parents of three grown children. Sally Gray is a former attorney who now works for a nonprofit education organization.