International community college honor society leader to speak at SCCs 2013 commencement

March 07, 2013

Rod Risley, executive director and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of the two-year college, will be the keynote speaker at the 25th annual St. Charles Community College commencement exercises on Saturday, May 18, 2013. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in the gymnasium of the College Center on the SCC campus.

International community college honor society leader to speak at SCCs 2013 commencement

Rod A. Risley, Ph.D., executive director and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of the two-year college

“We are pleased to welcome such a distinguished international leader to St. Charles County,” said Ron Chesbrough, Ph.D., SCC president. “Dr. Risley has championed the success of community college students for decades, and it will be especially inspiring for our graduates, as they celebrate the completion of their own degrees and prepare for the future, to hear Dr. Risley speak at their commencement.”

In 2010 Risley, along with CEOs from the five leading national organizations in the community college arena, made history by collectively signing an agreement, “Democracy’s Colleges: A Call to Action,” committing to increase the number of community college students completing a degree or credential by five million by 2020.

Risley is a community college graduate and a former national president of Phi Theta Kappa. He has served as executive director since 1985. As a longtime advocate for community college students, Risley led efforts to establish the Community College Completion Challenge and the Community College Completion Corps.

Risley serves on the American Association of Community College’s Commission for Academic and Student Development and is a recent recipient of AACC’s Distinguished Alumnus and National Leadership awards. Risley served two terms as chairman of the Mississippi Humanities Council. He now serves on the Steering Committee for the 21st Century Initiative Implementation Team in addition to serving as co-chair and member respectively of the “Faculty Engagement and Leadership Development” and “Community College Completion Commitment” Implementation Teams. In 2013 he was appointed to serve a three-year term on the National Advisory Board for the Center for Community College Student Engagement. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Sam Houston State University, an MBA from Millsaps College, a Ph.D. from Mississippi State University and has been awarded numerous honorary degrees.

The purpose of Phi Theta Kappa is to recognize and encourage scholarship among associate degree students and to provide opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming. Phi Theta Kappa was established by the presidents of the Missouri junior colleges for women in 1918.

Today, Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in higher education. There are more than 1,280 chapters in the U.S., U.S. Territories and eight sovereign nations inducting more than 135,000 students annually. Nearly 2.5 million students have been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, 70 percent of those during Risley’s tenure.

“It will be an honor to hear from Dr. Risley,” said Casey Koessel, president of Alpha Xi Chi, SCC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.  “Attending a community college has been an important step for me, and being a part of Phi Theta Kappa has given me educational and leadership opportunities.”  

SCC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Alpha Xi Chi, has nearly 200 members. To be eligible, students must complete 12 credit hours at SCC and receive a 3.5 GPA.

St. Charles Community College is a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit

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