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December Commencement to Graduate More Than 450

Averett will hold its winter Commencement ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 in the Grant Center. Virginia Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson will address the more than 450 graduates. Robinson, who is a nationally-recognized expert on the modern charter school movement, was named secretary of education in January by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

"Secretary Robinson has worked tirelessly to make an impact on education and we are honored to have him as Averett's Winter Commencement speaker," said Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks. "An outspoken advocate for educational choice and opportunities, it is fitting he will address our graduates as they transition to make an impact on the world themselves."

Prior to being named Secretary of Education, Robinson was the president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports family's rights to increase quality educational options for black children. Robinson has also served as a senior research associate for the School Choice Demonstration Project at the University of Arkansas from 2006-07.

When McDonnell named him as secretary he said in a news release, "Few individuals in America are as committed to providing positive educational opportunities for all our young people, in all our communities, as Gerard Robinson."

Throughout his career, Robinson has endeavored to create numerous initiatives involving urban school reform and policy development. When he was executive director of a nonprofit organization in New York City he opened a charter school in New Jersey. He has given presentations about education and public policy before audiences in the United States and abroad.

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