NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Eugene Mitchell Weatherly, a 1970 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, will offer the commencement address during the university’s graduation ceremonies Friday, Dec. 13, and Saturday, Dec. 14.
A Nacogdoches County native, Weatherly was a member of the SFA Lumberjack Cadet Battalion and graduated as a distinguished military graduate from SFA's historic first commissioning class of 1970.
Upon being commissioned as an infantry officer, Weatherly received flight commander training and became a helicopter pilot. Serving one year in Vietnam in 1971, he was assigned to an assault helicopter company in Can Tho, Vietnam, and flew missions in the Mekong River Delta region of Vietnam and Cambodia. He was on active duty in the Army for a total of three years — one in various military schools, one year in Vietnam and one year as a member of the 1st Calvary Division at Fort Hood.
Following his military service, Weatherly joined Pier 1 Imports and became an executive vice president for the company, overseeing operations of all 1,200 Pier 1 Import stores in the U.S. and Canada, which employed more than 20,000 employees.
Weatherly retired in 2007 and currently resides in Kerrville. He was inducted into the U.S. Army Cadet Command Reserve Officer Training Hall of Fame, which recognizes overall excellence and accomplishment in leadership, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in June 2016.
According to Weatherly, while 600,000 cadets have been commissioned through ROTC in the past 100 years, only 323 have been chosen for the Hall of Fame – a Supreme Court justice, a Medal of Honor recipient, hundreds of distinguished Army generals and a few business leaders.
"SFA gave me a view of the world and what could be if I applied myself," Weatherly said. "My SFA education was the foundation of the success I achieved. The basic economic principles I learned in my economic major combined with the leadership training I received from ROTC set the stage for my military and business success."
Candidates from the James I. Perkins College of Education will participate in a 6 p.m. ceremony on Friday, Dec. 13. On Saturday, Dec. 14, candidates from the Rusche College of Business and the College of Liberal and Applied Arts will participate in a 9:30 a.m. ceremony, and candidates from the College of Fine Arts, the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, and the College of Sciences and Mathematics will participate in a 2 p.m. ceremony.
Degrees to be awarded include 857 bachelor’s and 156 master’s degrees. Approximately 239 students will graduate with honors, including 92 cum laude, 68 magna cum laude and 73 summa cum laude. Forty-nine will graduate with the university scholar designation.
To view the ceremony online, visit facebook.com/sfasu.