Retiring state Rep. Clyde Kersey knows the struggles of a college student working their way through school. He also knows a degree from Indiana State has the potential to transform lives — just like it did his own.
It’s what made him a champion for his alma mater during his years of service as a state legislator and what will bring him to the podium as alumni speaker for the 2018 winter commencement.
“It was a bit overwhelming when I got the call from (Government Relations Executive Director) Greg Goode and was asked to not only speak at graduation, but to also learn I would receive an honorary degree,” Kersey said. “Indiana State has always held a special place in my heart and it means so much to me to have been able to work on funding to support capital projects at the university. And to now be recognized like this by the university is a great honor.”
Kersey (D-Terre Haute) will be awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters for his efforts during the ceremony, set for noon Dec. 15 at Hulman Center.
Kersey, ’71, GR ’74, and his wife, Susie, ’78, have one son and two grandsons, and they forged successful careers as educators in the Terre Haute community. Kersey served on the Vigo County Council, 1987-1996. He is a graduate of Fontanet High School and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He was named a Distinguished Alumni at Indiana State in 2006. After 32 years of public service, Kersey announced in 2017 he would not seek re-election.
“I lived in Terre Haute and had to work my way through school, so Indiana State was probably the only way I was ever going to be able to attend college and get a degree,” he said.
Since his election to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1996, Kersey has represented House District 43, which includes Indiana State’s campus. In 2006, Kersey led a bi-partisan effort to approve the Student Recreation Center (during a non-budget year) that has helped transform the campus. He has also been helpful with the advancement of Federal Hall (2009), Normal Hall (2013), Hulman Center (2015), College of Health and Human Services (2015) and Fine Arts and Commerce Building (2017).
A long-time champion for public higher education, Kersey served most of his legislative career on the House Ways and Means Committee, where he supported several important university priorities, including the creation of the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute (2013) and the special legislative appropriation to address nursing shortages (2007). His most notable achievements on behalf of Indiana State include helping secure full state funding for University Hall (2005), as well as funding for Stalker Hall (2001).
“I know that it’s costly to go to any university now days, and I know some of the students had to work along the way, make sacrifices and take out loans just to get to graduation day,” Kersey said. “I want them to know it was all worth it. Having a college degree will open a lot of doors for them – now and in the future.”
The processional will begin at 11:45 a.m. The ceremony will be livestreamed at https://www.indstate.edu/academic-affairs/commencement/live. A broadcast of the processionals will begin approximately 15 minutes prior to the ceremony.