U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Chairman Ellis to Address Graduates

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (L) and Chairman Ellis (R) to Address Graduates

Savannah State University has named its Class of 2021 spring commencement speakers: Sen. Raphael Warnock and Chatham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Chester A. Ellis.

Three ceremonies will be held at Tiger Arena for designated colleges, on the following dates and times:

  • College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences: Friday, May 7 | 9 a.m.
  • College of Business Administration and College of Education: Friday, May 7 | 5 p.m.
  • College of Sciences and Technology: Saturday, May 8 | 9 a.m. 

Warnock will speak at the Friday evening and Saturday morning commencement ceremonies and Ellis will speak at the Friday morning ceremony. More than 380 students will receive master’s, bachelor’s and/or associate degrees.

A native of Savannah, the Reverend Raphael Warnock was elected to the U.S. Senate in January of 2021. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Morehouse College, Atlanta, and attended Union Theological Seminary, N.Y., where he earned his Master of Philosophy, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. For more than 15 years, he has served as Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the former pulpit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Ellis, a lifelong resident of Chatham County, earned a bachelor’s degree from Savannah State College (University) in 1974. He also earned a master’s degree in Education and Leadership from Cambridge College, and completed additional doctoral coursework through Fielding Institute. With over 30 years of leadership and executive management experience, Ellis’s career as a teacher, coach, and leader with the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System has focused on investing in the lives of others. He is the pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church as well as president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, the Savannah Baptist Union, and the Savannah Emancipation Association.


To comply with COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, each student will be allowed to invite a maximum of five guests. Students and guests will be required to wear masks during the event, and all ceremonies will be live streamed online at savannahstate.edu/commencement.


Established in 1890, Savannah State University is the oldest public historically black college or university in Georgia and the oldest institution of higher learning in the city of Savannah.  The university’s 3,488 students select majors from 30 undergraduate and five graduate programs in four colleges — Business Administration, Education, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and Sciences and Technology.  


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