Baccalaureate Convocation Speaker

Bishop Teresa Elaine Snorton

Teresa Elaine Snorton became the 59th bishop elected in the Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.M.E.) Church on June 30, 2010, in Mobile, Alabama. She is the first female bishop of the C.M.E. Church. She was assigned as the presiding bishop of the new Eleventh Episcopal District, which includes eleven countries in Central, Southern and East Africa. On March 15, 2011 (after the passing of Bishop W.E. Lockett), Bishop Snorton was assigned to the Fifth Episcopal District, which includes the states of Alabama and Florida.

Bishop Snorton served as the Executive Director of the national Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, Inc for twelve years prior to her election as bishop. Bishop Snorton is a certified ACPE Supervisor and a board certified chaplain. She is a former Executive Director of the Emory Center for Pastoral Services in Atlanta, Georgia. She has taught at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, the Virginia Commonwealth University and the School of Theology at Virginia Union University. Bishop Teresa Snorton is a fourth generation, life-long CME. Her great-grandfather, father and uncle were all CME pastors and her grandmother was an active missionary. Her two sisters are also CME ministers. As an ordained minister in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, she was a former pastor in Kentucky, and an associate minister in CME churches in Virginia and Georgia.

Bishop Snorton has a B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University, a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a Master of Theology degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Patient Counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Bishop Snorton is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Miles College and Chair of the CME Department of Lay Ministries. She is a member of the Society for Pastoral Theology, the CME Chaplains Commission, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and the Pan-Methodist Commission. She is chair of the Family Life Committee of the World Methodist Council. Prior to her election as Bishop, she was a member of the CME Commission on the Concerns of Women in Ministry for eight years.

She is the author of several articles, chapters and books reviews on topics related to pastoral care and ministry. Recent works include a co-edited work with Dr. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, Women Out of Order: Risking Change and Creating Care in a Multi-Cultural World (Fortress Press, 2009) and a chapter in Courageous Conversations: The Teaching and Learning of Pastoral Supervision (University Press of America, 2010).

Bishop Snorton is has two adult sons and two grandchildren.

Commencement Convocation Speaker

Nathan Deal

Governor of Georgia

Nathan Deal took the oath of office as Georgia’s 82nd governor on Jan. 10, 2011.

The governor’s top goal is making Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation to do business, a goal he’s strived toward by creating the Competitiveness Initiative, reforming our tax code and recruiting businesses to relocate here.

In his first term, he has cut state taxes, eliminated state agencies, reduced the state government workforce, saved HOPE from the brink of bankruptcy, championed education innovations, cracked down on illegal immigration and implemented significant cost-saving reforms in our criminal justice system. This past session, he fought to increase public safety on our waterways, worked to save lives and taxpayer dollars through juvenile justice reform, improved our workforce by aiding veterans and technical college students, and called for stricter rules on lobbying to boost public trust.

Gov. Deal’s public service to his state spans four decades. The Sandersville native served in the U.S. Army at Fort Gordon in Augusta after graduating with a law degree from Mercer University, and then began a private law practice in Gainesville, the hometown of his wife, Sandra Dunagan Deal. While his wife taught in Hall County public schools, the governor began a long span of service to his community as prosecutor, judge, state senator and U.S. congressman.

During his 17 years in Congress, Deal rose to chair the Health Subcommittee of Energy and Commerce, where he became a noted expert on entitlement reform and health care policy.

Deal ended his congressional career to campaign for governor, becoming the Republican nominee in August 2010 and then winning the governorship in November of that year.

The governor and first lady have four adult children and six grandchildren.