NACOGDOCHES, Texas — More than 1,500 candidates will cross the stage during Stephen F. Austin State University commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 18, in Johnson Coliseum.

Steve Stagner, a 1991 SFA alumnus and former Mattress Firm CEO, will deliver the commencement address.

Just five years after his SFA graduation, Stagner became a Mattress Firm franchise owner. He eventually became the chief executive of the company, the nation’s largest mattress retailer, overseeing strategic planning as well as core functions such as sales, marketing, merchandising, finance and operations.

Stagner manages a number of private investments and serves as director of SFA’s Rusche College of Business Advisory Council. He serves on the advisory board for the Translational Genomics Research Institute, a non-profit medical research institute dedicated to unraveling the genetic components of both common and complex diseases.

Candidates from SFA’s James I. Perkins College of Education and the College of Fine Arts will participate in a 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Candidates from the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, the Rusche College of Business, the College of Liberal and Applied Arts, and the College of Sciences and Mathematics will participate in a 2 p.m. ceremony.

Degrees to be awarded include 1,178 bachelor’s, 318 master’s and nine doctoral degrees. Approximately 370 students will graduate with honors, including 139 cum laude, 120 magna cum laude and 111 summa cum laude. Eighty-one students will graduate with the university scholar designation.

Special guests expected to attend the afternoon ceremony include Ed Cole of Nacogdoches, who will be awarded an honorary doctoral degree, and former SFA president William R. Johnson, who will confer a diploma to his grandson, William Taylor Ash.

To view the ceremony online, visit the SFA Facebook page,