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Commencement speaker likely to bring surprises, showmanship


April 30, 2001

Although celebratory occasions, college commencements are filled with pomp and circumstance. Traditionally, a keynote speaker offers graduates a few words of wisdom that often are forgotten by day's end.

On May 11 at Austin Peay State University, approximately 650 candidates for graduation, their families and friends may be in for a surprise when Michael Blair takes the podium as Commencement speaker.

A 1987 graduate of APSU, Blair and his wife, Paulette, own Michael Blair Productions, headquartered in Cumming, Ga.

A multitalented actor, entertainer and emcee, Blair was named Corporate America's "Showman of the Year" in 1999, the same year he hosted the Miss Georgia Pageant. In 1996, he was producer and emcee for Panasonic during the Olympics, as well as serving as emcee for The Atlanta Hawks.

Blair has appeared as a guest artist on such programs as the "Jeff Foxworthy Show" and "Good Morning Atlanta." He has been an entertainer for such companies as Bell South, Coca-Cola, Aflac Insurance and Turner Broadcasting.

He played minor roles in the films "Sharkey's Machine," "Slugger's Wife," "Summer Rental" and "Dead Aim," and he has been a runway model for Reebok, Nike, Perry Ellis, Gingiss Formalwear, Zanetti and Claiborne.

Following The Coca-Cola Company's annual Corporate Services Division holiday party, Blair received accolades from the company's director of strategic events, who wrote: "What a great job you did! "You transformed the Hyatt Regency ballroom with your blend of music, dancing, humor and shtick."

Dr. Sherry Hoppe, president of APSU, said, "Graduates always enjoy hearing from alumni who once sat where they are sitting. The success of alumni such as Mike Blair inspires these young people. They realize 'That could be me in a few years.'

"Since Mike is a successful entertainer, his presentation may be unique. Without doubt, it will be enjoyable and memorable."

APSU Commencement ceremonies begin at 2 p.m. May 11 in the Dunn Center.