awarded 747 bachelor's, 429 master's, 17 educational specialists and nine doctor of philosophy degrees.
The speech to the graduates marked Riley's first commencement address since he became Alabama 's 52 nd governor in January. For the previous six years, he had represented the state in the United States Congress.
"Gov. Riley has shown tremendous leadership in support of higher education," said USA President Gordon Moulton. "He has proven himself to be a very progressive leader."
During his address to the graduates, Riley focused on the two concepts of change and perseverance. He told the crowd to accept change and direct it toward future success. Riley also instructed the graduates: "Never let disappointment, never let failure, determine who you are."
He encouraged them to thank their parents, spouses, friends and teachers who had helped them complete their degrees.
"No one goes through this life and accomplishes much without the support of their family and friends," Riley said.
An Ashland native, Riley has been a successful businessman in a number of ventures including a car dealership, real estate company and grocery store. For the last 25 years, he's been a cattleman with more than 400 head of cattle on his ranch.
Earlier this year, Riley garnered accolades for his courageous fight for fundamental tax reform in Alabama . He has received awards from news outlets and national groups for his principled leadership.