Sullivan, Tobias address summer graduates

Summer commencement 2014

Saturday’s commencement festivities also included the conferring of an honorary degree upon Keith Guller of Essex Industries, Inc. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Nearly 350 soon-to-be graduates gathered on campus Saturday to formally accept their diplomas from the University of Missouri–St. Louis and commemorate years of hard work. The celebratory day featured remarks from several UMSL alumni who are making a positive impact in the St. Louis community.

Grayling Tobias

Grayling Tobias

Grayling Tobias, superintendent of the Hazelwood School District, spoke at the morning ceremony, which honored graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education, College of Fine Arts and Communication, School of Social Work, and the Master of Public Policy Administration program.

Tobias is passionate about making a difference in young people’s lives. Previously the director of secondary education and an assistant superintendent for Hazelwood, Tobias also served as a middle school principal in the Riverview Gardens School District and as a middle school assistant principal, high school assistant principal and teacher in the Parkway School District.

A basketball and baseball standout at McCluer High School and at UMSL, Tobias played for the farm teams of the Montreal Expos and Detroit Tigers after completing his undergraduate studies. He is heavily involved in the local community, currently serving on the board of directors for North County Incorporated as well as the Greater North County Chamber of Commerce and the TEAM food pantry in Florissant, Mo.

Keith Guller

Keith Guller

The morning ceremony also included recognition of honorary degree recipient Keith Guller, a 1976 UMSL graduate who is now president, chief operating officer and chief executive officer of Essex Industries, Inc.

Founded in 1947 by Harold and Sidney Guller in their father’s basement, the family business is now a leading supplier to the aerospace and defense, first response, safety and medical markets. Keith Guller has been instrumental in leading Essex to diversify and prosper during fluctuating economic times and in initiating strategic planning to guide the company’s future directions.

Guller dedicates much of his time and philanthropy to the St. Louis region. He serves on the College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Council at UMSL and the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital Board of Directors among others. He and the Guller Foundation recently established an endowed scholarship for students, and Guller is an ardent supporter of UMSL’s Veterans Center and Veterans Studies program.

Steve Sullivan

Steve Sullivan

Steven R. Sullivan, president and executive director of local nonprofit Provident, Inc., and also a UMSL alumnus, addressed graduates at a 2 p.m. ceremony for those earning degrees from the College of Business Administration, College of Nursing and the UMSL/WUSTL Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program.

Prior to taking the helm at Provident, which provides counseling, crisis intervention and community support services, Sullivan was chairman, president and CEO of Ameren Energy Resources, a coal and gas merchant generation company, and Ameren Energy Marketing, a related marketing company. He was a senior vice president and the general counsel and secretary for Ameren Corporation from 1998 to 2011.

Sullivan is a board member for the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, serving on the audit and strategic planning committees and as secretary. He also serves on the board of Food Outreach and was previously a board member for the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Both of the Aug. 9 ceremonies took place in the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center on UMSL’s North Campus.

Media Coverage:
Associated Press (via KTVI)

The UMSL Experience


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