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Commencement Speaker

Mike Rawlings

Mayor of Dallas
Mike Rawlings

Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings will be the speaker at the May 2014 Commencement Convocation. 

Elected Mayor in June 2011, Mike Rawlings brings three decades of high-level business and civic leadership to Dallas City Hall. Mayor Rawlings came to Dallas in 1976 with two hundred dollars in his pocket, and through hard work and determination, he proved that Dallas truly is The City of Opportunity. After taking an entry level job in one of Dallas' top ad agencies, he worked his way up to become the CEO of Tracy-Locke, which at the time was the largest advertising agency in the South. 

After a successful 20-year career in marketing and advertising, Mike Rawlings took the helm of the world's largest pizza company, Pizza Hut. Under Mike's leadership, the company had a major upturn in business resulting in the highest weekly store sales in Pizza Hut history and recognition by D Magazine as "The Best Company To Work For In Dallas." 

Most recently, Mayor Rawlings served as Managing Partner of CIC Partners, where he provided business counsel and capital, helping to grow small and mid-sized businesses in Dallas, and across the U.S. In addition to his vast business experience, over the past three decades Mayor Rawlings also has served as a volunteer leader with a proven record of tackling some of our city's toughest challenges. 

As the Homeless Czar for five years, Mike oversaw the construction and opening of The Bridge, which is the cornerstone of our city's long-term plan to help the homeless and clean up our downtown. Mike also worked to raise more than $12 million in private donations to operate this non-profit that helps more than 1,000 homeless men and women every day. Under Mike's leadership Dallas reduced its number of chronically homeless by nearly 57% over five years. 

As Chair of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2006-07, Mike worked to bring in new tax revenue from visitors, relieving the burden on homeowners. Under his leadership, the CVB brought in events that generated $400 million in direct economic impact to Dallas. 

And while serving as President of the Dallas Park & Recreation Board, Mike fostered public-private partnerships securing private funding to support basic services and start a new youth health initiative. 

For his thoughtful leadership in working to end homelessness, Mike was awarded the 2007 Innovation Award from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the Dallas Historical Society's Award for Excellence in Humanities, and the Anti-Defamation League's Humanitarian of the Year for 2010. 

A lifelong athlete, Mike lettered in football at Boston College, where he received a Bachelor's degree in philosophy and communications, Magna Cum Laude. Today, he serves on the Board of Trustees of Jesuit College Preparatory. He has been an active lecturer at many universities as well as an adjunct professor at SMU. Mike and his wife Micki have raised two children here in Dallas, Michelle (30) and Gunnar (22).