ccomplished Investment Banker, Gospel Singer and Author to Deliver Keynote

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University will bestow degrees on nearly 700 students at the annual commencement ceremonies on Saturday, April 30, 2011. Carla A. Harris, managing director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, will be the keynote speaker. Commencement will begin at 9:30 a.m. on the Science Green, behind the Howard Building in the heart of JU’s campus.

A Jacksonville native and a force on Wall Street for more than 20 years, Harris is the head of the firm’s Emerging Manager Program and also provides investment advice to corporations, public pension plans, foundations and endowments. She was previously responsible for the structuring, marketing and execution of public and private equity financings and has industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial and healthcare sectors.

The author of “Expect to Win: 10 Proven Strategies for Thriving in the Workplace,” Harris has been named to Fortune Magazine’s list of “The Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America” and to Fortune’s “The Most Influential List” 2005, to Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Top 50 African Americans on Wall Street,” to Essence Magazine’s list of “The 50 Women Who are Shaping the World,” Ebony’s list of “15 Corporate Women at the Top,” The Network Journal’s2005 list of “25 Most Outstanding Women in Business” and was named “Woman of the Year 2004# by the Harvard University Black Men’s Forum.

In addition to being an author and having a successful career in business, she is also an accomplished gospel singer who released her third album, “Unceasing Praise” in February. She has performed three sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall and regularly performs in the New York area and is a member and soloist in the popular Mark Howell Singers and St. Charles Borromeo Gospelite Choir in Harlem, N.Y.

Harris received a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, Second Year Honors and an Artium Baccalaureus in economics from Harvard University, magna cum laude. The University will present her with an honorary doctorate in business commerce in recognition of her outstanding career.

The University will also honor Ash Verlander in memoriam with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Verlander, a long-time University trustee and civic leader, passed away in 2009.  He devoted much of his time to fundraising for the University and also served as president of the Gator Bowl Association.

Graduates who have achieved the highest cumulative grade point average will be honored with the prestigious Fred B. Noble Medal for Scholarship. The University will also present two prominent service awards – the Presidential Award for Leadership and the Presidential Award for Service.