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MTSU to honor military alumnus, China leader at Ma...

MTSU to honor military alumnus, China leader at May 10 commencement

An Army three-star general from Bell Buckle, Tenn., and a top education official from China will receive honorary doctorates from MTSU and will address graduates during commencement exercises May 10.

MTSU alumnus Lt. Gen. William Phillips, who was most recently stationed at the Pentagon as director of the Army’s Acquisition Corps, will be honored and speak at MTSU’s afternoon commencement.

Madam Xu Lin of China, a vice minister of education and director-general of the worldwide network of Confucius Institutes, will be honored and speak at the morning ceremonies.

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee (left) meets with Lt. Gen. William Phillips during a visit to the Pentagon’s offices for the Army Acquisition Corps. Phillips will be the afternoon speaker for the May 10, 2014, commencement ceremony and will be presented with an honorary doctorate degree. (MTSU photo)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee (left) meets with Lt. Gen. William Phillips during a visit to the Pentagon’s offices for the Army Acquisition Corps. Phillips will be the afternoon speaker for the May 10, 2014, commencement ceremony and will be presented with an honorary doctorate degree. (MTSU photo)

“We are proud to recognize and welcome these accomplished individuals,” said President Sidney A. McPhee, who announced the honors during a speech Tuesday at the Murfreesboro Rotary Club.

“General Phillips, a proud member of the Blue Raider ROTC battalion, charted a career in service of our nation that found him responsible for billions of dollars of purchases to equip and ready our soldiers across the globe,” McPhee said.

“And Madam Xu has been a committed partner and friend to our university’s efforts to create academic partnerships and cultural exchanges between China and our country.”

This will mark only the third and fourth honorary doctorates presented by MTSU, with the first two presented last year to former U.S. Congressman Bart Gordon and the late Nobel laureate James M. Buchanan, both MTSU alumni.

From February 2010 to this month, Phillips served as the principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. He will retire from the Army later this summer after 38 years of service.

“Bill’s tremendous vision, leadership, and dedication to excellence has ensured our beloved soldiers fighting on behalf of the nation have always had and will continue to have well into the future, the most technologically advanced and reliable equipment whenever and wherever they need it most,” said U.S. Rep. John Carter in a House speech honoring Phillips.

Carter, R-Texas, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, called Phillips “a true champion for soldier’s and their families … His efforts have proven to be exponential and his example unwavering.”

Phillips graduated from MTSU in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree. He received a master’s degree in procurement and materials management from Webster University and a master’s of personnel management from Troy State University. He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College, Defense Systems Management College, and Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

In this 2013 file photo, Confucius Institute CEO Xu Lin, left, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee discuss some of McPhee's photos from China displayed inside MTSU's Confucius Institute at Peck Hall. Xu will be the morning speaker for spring 2014 commencement and will receive an honorary doctorate degree from MTSU. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

In this 2013 file photo, Confucius Institute CEO Xu Lin, left, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee discuss some of McPhee’s photos from China displayed inside MTSU’s Confucius Institute at Peck Hall. Xu will be the morning speaker for spring 2014 commencement and will receive an honorary doctorate degree from MTSU. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Army Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and Army Staff Identification Badge. In 2001, he was named the Army’s Acquisition Commander of the Year.

Xu leads the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) and serves as chief executive of the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing. During Xu’s tenure, the organization has experienced tremendous growth. Since 2004, it has expanded to more than 120 countries with more than 440 Confucius Institutes and 650 Confucius Classrooms. The organization has reached more than 850,000 students across the world.

“Under Xu’s leadership, Hanban has been committed to making Chinese language and culture teaching resources and services available to the world, meeting the demands of overseas Chinese learners, and contributing to the formation of a world of cultural diversity and harmony,” McPhee said.

Xu received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and a master’s degree from Beijing Normal University. Following her graduation from Fudan University, she taught at Shanxi University, worked at the Higher Education Bureau of Shanxi Province and the Central Educational Film Studio, China.

Xu has received numerous awards, including the International Education Award from the College Board (U.S.); the Order of Academic Palms–Officer’s Grade from the Government of France; the Medal of Friendly Cooperation from the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia; the Outstanding Worker Award from the Ministry of Education (China); and National May First Labor Medal (China).

She has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Arizona and Western Kentucky University in the U.S., the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, the University of St. Thomas in Chile, Babeş-Bolyai University in Romania, Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, Veliko Turnovo University in Bulgaria and J.F. Oberlin University in Japan.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)


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