Rear Admiral to give TTU commencement address

Rear Admiral Vinson E. Smith, an alumnus of Tennessee Tech University, will give this spring's commencement address during graduation ceremonies beginning at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 15, in Eblen Center.
Some 999 students are expected to graduate this semester.

Smith, a native of Carthage, is commander of U.S. Naval Forces, Southern Command. A 1974 TTU agriculture graduate who majored in horticulture, Smith received his commission following graduation and reported to the USS Nimitz, where he completed three division office tours and three deployments.

After two years at the Naval Amphibious School as an instructor, he completed tours on the USS Charles F. Adams and the USS Luce. He deployed to the North Atlantic with the Standing Naval Force Atlantic and to the Arabian Gulf during the Iran/Iraq tanker war, as well to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

In 1992, Smith assumed command of the USS Robert G. Bradley, and in 1996, he assumed command of Naval Station San Diego. In 1999, he served as director of Personal Readiness and Community Support, Washington liaison attachment, and as branch head for Plans and Policy for the Shore Installation Management Division. His most recent assignment was as commander, Navy Region Northwest, and Naval Surface Group, Pacific Northwest.

Smith earned two master’s degrees — one in strategic studies and national defense from the Naval War College and a second in international relations from Salve Regina University.

His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, and the Navy Commendation Medal.
Last fall, the Tennessee Tech Alumni Association honored Smith with a Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Students graduating from Tennessee Tech this spring hail from 21 states including Tennessee, 73 Tennessee counties and 12 foreign countries. They represent 43 undergraduate fields of study and 21 graduate fields. Following spring commencement, Tennessee Tech will have granted more than 50,000 degrees, nearly 30,000 of them since 1986.