Urging the graduates to take what they have "gleaned from Tennessee Tech to become one of the most prolific contributors in our society," McGee emphasized the need in society for high quality and "good" human beings like those he addressed.
"You will have many, many challenges when you leave the comfort zone of Tennessee Tech," McGee said. "The most important challenge is likely to be whether or not you will continue to be the 'good' person you are."
Speaking to the university's newest group of alumni, their friends and families, McGee based his talk on the idea that "good leaders must first be good people." He asked the graduates if they would "become passionate about treating others the way you want to be treated. For one's efforts alone are seldom enough for him or her to obtain success," he said. "It's simply not enough to possess a college degree. We must have the support of others to enhance our careers and to enrich our lives."
Quoting from the poem "Anyway" by Gary Griesser, McGee left the graduates with one final challenge. "Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth," he read. "Give the world the best you've got anyway."
McGee joined the administration at Tennessee Tech in 1977 as assistant dean of Extended Services and associate professor of Education. During his 19-year tenure at the university, he has also served as assistant and interim vice president for Academic Affairs. He holds master's and doctorate degrees in education from The Ohio State University, where he also served as assistant director and director of Student Teaching. McGee later became a department head in the College of Education at Tennessee State University. He is the author of more than 40 professional articles and 20 creative and opinion essays, and has written or co-written five books. One of his creative essays was the basis of a television documentary which was produced by the Lifetime Cable Network.
The 334 degrees conferred at the ceremony in Hooper Eblen Center represented 28 undergraduate and 15 graduate major fields of study. Graduating students hailed from 53 Tennessee counties, nine other states and six foreign countries, bringing the total number of Tennessee Tech alumni to more than 42,000.
Among the graduates were six individuals receiving their doctoral degrees in engineering: Ruj Bunduwongse in Mechanical Engineering, Edmund Josel dela Cruz in Electrical Engineering, Xiaohong Dou in Mechanical Engineering, Ashok Mishra in Electrical Engineering, Tao Wang in Electrical Engineering, and Stacy Smith Wilson in Electrical Engineering. All received resounding applause for their achievements.