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Jackson to be commencement speaker at U. of I. graduation


Stephanie Lulay, News Bureau

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Mannie Jackson, a 1960 alumnus of the University of Illinois and chairman and owner of the Harlem Globetrotters, will be the speaker at the 137th U. of I. Commencement on May 11.

He will speak at the 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. ceremonies at Assembly Hall, 1800 S. First St., Champaign.

Jackson, a former member of the Illinois basketball team, has served on the board of directors of six Fortune 500 companies. He is the chairman of Boxcar Financial Holding of Las Vegas. A former player for the Globetrotters, he has been chairman and owner of the team since 1993.

During his time as an Illini basketball player, Jackson served as the first African-American team captain, and, along with player Govoner Vaughn, was one of the first two African Americans to earn a varsity letter.

Jackson graduated with a bachelor of science degree in physical education. After graduation, Jackson played for the Globetrotters from 1962-1964. In 1964, he attended graduate school at the University of Detroit while working at General Motors. In 1968, he went to work for Honeywell Inc., eventually becoming senior vice president.

In February, the university received a $2 million gift from Jackson; his wife, Cathy; and their children, Cassie and Candace, to create the Mannie L. Jackson Illinois Academic Enrichment and Leadership Program to benefit the College of Applied Health Sciences. The program is intended to provide first-generation college students and students from under-represented groups with mentorship, academic skill development, career leadership training and one-on-one support.

Jackson is the founder of the Executive Leadership Council for African-American corporate executives and serves on its board of directors. In 1993, he was named one of the nation’s 40 most powerful and influential black executives by Black Enterprise magazine.