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Former Mississippi Governor and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to Speak at Millsaps College

by Web on January 27, 2017

Ray Mabus, governor of Mississippi from 1988-1992 and Secretary of the Navy under former President Barack Obama, will speak at Millsaps College on Friday, February 17. The speech will take place at 12:00pm in the Recital Hall of the Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex, and is presented by the Elise and William Winter Speaker Series.

“We are honored to host Secretary Mabus, and look forward to hearing his truly unique perspective on global challenges,” said Dr. Robert W. Pearigen, president of Millsaps College. “Reflecting on his experiences as a governor, United States ambassador, and Secretary of the Navy, he will provide our campus community and the broader public with an incredible opportunity to hear from a man who has been at the front lines of addressing some of the most complex and serious issues of the day.”

As Navy Secretary from 2009 to 2017 (the longest serving Secretary of the Navy since World War I), Mabus led America's Sailors and Marines in a time of two wars and oversaw an annual budget of over $170 billion and almost 900,000 people. If the Department of the Navy were a private company, it would be the second largest in the United States in employees, third largest in assets and fifth largest in budget authority.

Recognized by Glassdoor as one of the top 50 CEOs in the country, Mabus earned international attention for his efforts to rebuild the U.S. fleet; revolutionize energy procurement and consumption, including moving the Navy away from fossil fuels; promoting innovation in Navy personnel and business practices; and strengthening global partnerships by traveling over 1.3 million miles to meet with Sailors and Marines and leaders in over 152 separate countries and territories.

In his first seven years as Secretary, 86 ships were put under contract, more than double the number in the previous seven years, with a far more challenging budget environment. From 2001 to 2008, the fleet declined from 316 to 278 ships. Mabus’ efforts assure that the fleet will again top 300 ships no later than 2019. Mabus reintroduced some basic business fundamentals, expanding competitive bidding, fixed-price contracts and multi-year procurements.

Just five months into his term, Mabus established five aggressive goals to make the Navy and Marine Corps more energy efficient and to diversify its fuel supply. The most ambitious of the goals requires that by 2020 more than half of naval energy afloat and ashore will come from non-fossil fuel source. The Department met that goal ashore in 2015 and is well positioned to meet it at sea no later than the deadline.

He launched a comprehensive approach to health, fitness, resilience, family, sexual assault and suicide prevention and alcohol and drug abuse through the 21st Century Sailor and Marine Program. He followed that up with innovative personnel changes to make volunteer military service more attractive, including a career intermission program, merit promotions, flexible entry and industry tours, and tripled paid maternity leave to eighteen weeks.

He opened submarine and riverine service to women and returned Naval ROTC to Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton after an absence of forty years. He also advocated the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and opening all positions to women while maintaining the highest combat effectiveness.

In June 2010, President Obama gave him the additional task of producing a long-term Gulf Coast restoration plan after the Deepwater Horizon spill. Many of the recommendations in his report, “America’s Gulf Coast,” were adopted into law when Congress passed on a bipartisan vote and the President signed the “Restore Act.”

As the youngest governor of Mississippi in more than 150 years at the time of his election, he stressed education and job creation. He passed B.E.S.T. (Better Education for Success Tomorrow), one of the most comprehensive education reform programs in America; gave teachers the largest pay raise in the nation; was named one or Fortune Magazine’s top ten education governors; balanced every budget; and never raised taxes. Mississippi also had record growth in new jobs, investment, tourism and exports. In 2000, he was chosen in a poll of Mississippians as the Best Governor of the 20th Century.

During his tenure as Ambassador, a crisis with Iraq was successfully deterred, a terrorist attack was weathered, and contracts worth more than $16 billion were signed between Saudi Arabia and American companies. Also, Saudi Arabia officially abandoned the boycott of United States businesses that trade with Israel and more than $8 million of proposed expenditures for the American mission were cut.

Mabus has been awarded the U.S. Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award, the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award (both while Ambassador), the Martin Luther King Social Responsibility Award from the King Center in Atlanta, the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award, the King Abdul Aziz Award from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Mississippi Association of Educators’ Friend of Education Award, and is a member of the University of Mississippi Alumni Hall of Fame. He is also an honorary Chief Petty Officer and an Honorary Frogman (SEAL).