Former MSU President to address spring graduates at MSU-Meridian

Contact:  Lisa SollieWest Point native Malcolm Portera, who served as the 16th president of Mississippi State University, will deliver the May 2 address at MSU-Meridian’s 2019 spring commencement.

MERIDIAN, Miss.—The 16th president of Mississippi State University is the 2019 speaker for MSU-Meridian’s spring commencement.

West Point native and MSU alumnus Malcolm Portera, who served as the university’s leader from 1998-2001, will deliver the May 2 address during an 11 a.m. public ceremony at the MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts.

Approximately 120 students are candidates for spring degrees at MSU-Meridian.

As chief executive, Portera worked to expand MSU’s research and development capabilities and its role in economic development, and was a constant champion of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Computational Field Simulation, founded at the university in 1990. MSU honored him in 2014 with the formal naming and dedication of the Malcolm A. Portera High Performance Computing Collaboratory, formerly the ERC, located in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park in Starkville.

After four years at Mississippi State, Portera returned to Alabama to become chancellor of the University of Alabama System. He served in that role for a decade until his 2012 retirement. During his tenure with the UA System, he was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor, comprised of 100 living Alabamians elected on the basis of service to the state.

Prior to serving at Mississippi State, he held a variety of positions at UA and the UA System, as well as launching a successful business development and strategic planning company upon his 1996 retirement as vice chancellor of the UA System.

Portera earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MSU and a doctorate in political science from UA. He has been widely recognized for his industrial development activities which have contributed to billions of dollars in capital investment in Mississippi and Alabama, particularly related to the automotive and aerospace industries.

Portera currently serves as vice president and secretary of The Riley Foundation, a local philanthropic foundation created to improve the quality of life for the people of Meridian and Lauderdale County. He also is a former chair of the Council of Presidents of the Southeastern Universities Research Association and has been a member of numerous boards, including the Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi Science and Technology Commission, Alabama Technology Network, Alabama Workforce Investment Board, Southern Research Institute Inc., Mississippi Power Company, and Regional Technology Strategies, Inc. of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Since 2014, he has been an active partner in Portera and Associates, a business planning and development firm located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  He and his wife Olivia have two sons and two grandsons.

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