Austin College Announces Commencement Speaker

Austin College President Marjorie Hass announces the selection of Commander Stan Fornea as the Commencement speaker for the College’s Class of 2012 exercises this spring. The ceremony will be held Sunday, May 13, at 8:30 a.m. on the Clyde L. Hall Graduation Court, north of Caruth Administration Building on the campus.

A native of Louisiana, Fornea was commissioned a lieutenant in May 1996 and presently is assigned as Chaplain for the White House Military Office, Washington D.C.

Serving now under President Barack Obama, Commander Fornea also was in service during the presidency of President George W. Bush. In Bush’s book Decision Points, he wrote of his encounters with Commander Fornea at the base chapel at Camp David:

“Stan believed that the answer to evil was freedom. He also knew there would be a cost. “There has never been a noble cause devoid of sacrifice,” he said in one sermon. “If freedom is worthy of defense only to the point it costs us nothing then we are in desperate need as a nation.”

Above all, Stan was an optimist, and his sense of hope lifted my spirits. “The Scriptures put great premiums on faithfulness, perseverance, and overcoming,” he said. “We do not quit or give up. We always believe there is no such thing as a hopeless situation.”

Chaplain Fornea is an ordained minister in The Episcopal Church in the United States of America. He has professional sub-specialty codes in the areas of homiletics and ethics. His professional education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies/history from Southeastern Louisiana University, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Seminary, a Master of Theology degree from Duke University, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Vanderbilt University.

Chaplain Fornea’s military career began after 12 years in parish ministry, including pastorates in Mississippi and in Sherman, Texas. After commissioning, he reported to the Chaplain’s School in Newport, Rhode Island. Upon graduation, he reported to Naval Support Activities in London, England, serving from May 1996 to August 1999. His first operational tour was with the U.S. Marine Corps from August 1999 to September 2002 with Marine Aircraft Control Group 28, Cherry Point, North Carolina. Following his Marine tour, Chaplain Fornea was assigned as Command Chaplain aboard the USS LA SALLE, Sixth Fleet Flag Ship, home ported in Gaeta, Italy, from September 2002 to August 2004.

Following post graduate school at Duke University, Chaplain Fornea was selected for Presidential Support Duty as Command Chaplain at Naval Support Facility in Thurmont, Maryland, the Presidential retreat at Camp David, and served from June 2005 to January 2009.

After service at Camp David, Chaplain Fornea served as the Deputy Command Chaplain for Multi-National Forces, Iraq, stationed at Camp Liberty and the International Zone, Baghdad. Upon his return he was selected as the first chaplain ever assigned to the White House Military Office, Washington D.C.

Chaplain Fornea’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal,  Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Battle E, and other campaign and service awards.

Chaplain Fornea will receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree during the Austin College Commencement exercises, along with the Baccalaureate speaker, the Reverend Dr. Robert Crilley, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Grapevine, Texas; and the Reverend Dr. Carroll L. “Bud” Pickett, 1954 Austin College graduate, long-time Presbyterian minister, and former prison chaplain of the Huntsville Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system.

Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives.