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Winter Commencement Ceremony


President Pro Tempore of NC Senate to Speak at Commencement

April 30, 2014

Averett University is pleased to announce that one of its own will serve as its spring Commencement speaker. Senator Phil Berger '80, President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate, will address more than 300 graduates on Saturday, May 10 at the University's E. Stuart James Grant Convocation and Athletic Center.

Berger, who represents the state's twenty-sixth district, which includes Guilford and Rockingham counties, was first elected to the Senate in 2000. He became the minority leader in 2004 and was elected President Pro Tem in January 2011, following the November 2010 elections that put Republicans in charge of the legislature for the first time in more than a century.

A former resident of Danville, Berger graduated from a local high school and then worked in a factory where he unloaded sheets of wood from the end of a conveyor belt. Then he worked as a clerk in the produce department at Kroger, eventually working his way up to produce manager, a position that gave him the flexibility to attend college classes several days a week. With two young children, Berger worked full time and took a full load of college courses. He graduated with a degree in sociology from Averett at age 28, becoming the first member of his family to earn a college degree.

He attended law school in Winston-Salem, N.C., and then worked for a firm in Charlotte and clerked for an appellate judge in Raleigh before moving to Eden in 1984. He joined a practice that is now the Berger Law Firm – a partnership with his two sons.

As President Pro Tempore, Berger works closely with the Speaker of the House and the Governor on behalf of the Senate. As President Pro Tem he has the exclusive right and authority to appoint all Senate committees and to establish select committees. He is also responsible for presiding over the Senate in the absence of the Lieutenant Governor. He serves as co-chair of the Legislative Services Commission and the Committee on Governmental Operations.

Berger and his wife, Pat, live in Eden. They have three children and four grandchildren.