California Majority Leader to Deliver Commencement Address

Posted on: Friday, April 26th, 2013 by Brent Treash

California Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins will deliver the keynote address during Emory & Henry College’s 165th commencement ceremony to be held May 4 on the south lawn of Memorial Chapel.

Commencement ceremonies will be streamed live at

Atkins of San Diego is a member of the Emory & Henry Class of 1984 and is a native of Roanoke, Va. Once named by the Democratic Leadership Council in California as a "rising star," Atkins is a former member of the San Diego City Council and a former interim San Diego mayor.

Shortly after being elected to the California Assembly in 2010, she was named majority whip. In 2012, she was appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly to serve as majority leader.

Much of her political reputation is built on the successful work she has done on behalf of the disadvantaged communities in San Diego. She fought for and achieved affordable housing in the cities challenging house market. She has worked successfully on behalf of veterans, the elderly and the homeless while remaining focused on fiscal responsibility.

As interim mayor, she earned high praise for her management expertise, her work ethic and her ability to organize disparate factions of the community. She also earned national press attention as the first openly gay leader of a major U.S. city.

"I totally continue to believe and be grateful that my time at Emory & Henry really helped prepare me for the role and path I've taken in civic engagement and public service," Atkins said.

In the event of rain, the ceremonies will be inside a tent located on campus. The tent holds 2,000 guests. Additional guests are welcome, but may want to bring umbrellas in case of rain.


The Rev. Walter Weikel will speak during a baccalaureate service in honor of the Class of 2013 Friday, May 3 at 4 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.

Weikel is a 1984 graduate of Emory & Henry and a graduate of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. He served as senior pastor at Abingdon United Methodist Church before his appointment as district superintendent for the Johnson City District of the Holston Conference, United Methodist Church, in 2012.

His wife, Lisa (Coulthard) Weikel, is a member of the Emory & Henry Class of 1985.

Baccalaureate is an interfaith worship service open to all as the community celebrates the achievements of members of the 2013 graduating class.

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