Contact: James Carskadon
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey encouraged Mississippi State University’s fall 2016 graduates to value each day and conduct themselves with integrity during Friday’s [Dec. 9] commencement ceremony at Humphrey Coliseum.
“You will leave this place and go back and affect the people around you,” Sankey said. “Be open to their needs. Bend a knee, lend a hand. Leadership understands it is OK to have differences, but we also need to have a conversation.”
The SEC’s eighth commissioner also told MSU’s approximately 1,370 candidates for December degrees to live honorably, live a quiet life, laugh often and to make each day a masterpiece.
Sankey became commissioner of the SEC in 2015 after spending 13 years in leadership positions in the league office. The Auburn, New York, native has helped shape SEC policies, including playing a key role in former commissioner Mike Slive’s initiatives to reshape governance, enforcement and compliance programs in the SEC.
Prior to joining the SEC administrative team, Sankey spent nearly seven years as commissioner of the Southland Conference. He also worked as director of compliance and academic services at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
On Friday, Sankey detailed his experience of having an atrial fibrillation in the Atlanta airport in 1997. He said that despite having a good job and a great family, his busy lifestyle had health consequences. He encouraged MSU graduates to be well-rounded people and follow their values.
“There were two cardiologists, a number of tests, a whole bunch of doctors who basically said this to me, as an outcome of that day in Atlanta: ‘I wasn’t living very well,’” Sankey said.
Sankey earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from, respectively, the State University of New York College at Cortland and Syracuse University. He and wife Cathy are the parents of two daughters, Hannah Michelle and Moriah Elizabeth. Hannah Sankey graduated from MSU in 2015 with a degree from the university’s College of Arts and Sciences. Her graduation, Sankey said, was the only time he rang a cowbell, fulfilling a promise he made to his daughter.
“When she entered her freshman year, she asked me to ring,” Sankey said. “I told her, ‘When you graduate, I will ring.’”
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.