A-State Alumnus Addresses Graduates At Fall Commencement
JONESBORO – Retired AT&T executive and distinguished alumnus Jim Callaway addressed more than 1,200 graduates during Arkansas State University’s 2015 fall commencement ceremony, Saturday (Dec. 12) morning in the Convocation Center.
Prior to Callaway’s remarks, A-State Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson told the graduating class, “Graduation is a milestone in your life. The destiny of our country and, indeed, our world is in your hands.”
Honor student Kathleen Blessing of Harrison offered remarks on behalf of the graduating class of 1,223 that included six doctoral candidates, 130 specialist degree graduates, 435 masters’ degree graduates, 459 bachelors’ degree candidates and 193 associate degrees.
Callaway, a 1968 graduate, harked back to his time as an A-State student on the eve of his graduation, to share his father’s advice about his own future. Faced with being drafted by the military into the war in Vietnam, an impending wedding to his wife of 46 years and a college degree but no job, Callaway said his father told him to, “do what makes you happy.”
“If you are undecided on a job, hang in there, there is hope,” said Callaway. “My first boss at Southwestern Bell told me, ‘Callaway, you will experience a lot of change.’ I’m not an expert on change, but when it comes, recognize it, study it and try to figure out the positives, turn the positives into something for yourself and go for it.
“I am a product of this university,” he continued. “I’ve worked all over the country and pretty much all over the world. Any success I have had got started here. You have a great education and be proud of your education. Have the confidence that you have a great foundation on which to succeed.”
Callaway majored in business administration and had a minor in journalism while at Arkansas State. He began his career in Pine Bluff with Southwestern Bell Telephone. After holding several different management positions during his telecommunications career, he was also the lead executive in charge of integrating SBC and AT&T following SBC’s acquisition of AT&T in 2005, and managed the integration of Bell South and Cingular in a subsequent merger. Callaway retired in January 2011 as the senior executive vice president for Executive Operations reporting to the chairman of AT&T.
A third baseman for the then Indians, he was a four-year letterman who was a three-time All-Southland Conference (SLC) selection. He played for two of the most successful teams in school history. The 1967 team posted a 26-8-1 overall record as SLC champions that remains the highest winning percentage at A-State, and advanced to the college division playoffs.
His senior year, A-State repeated as Southland champions with a 22-12-1 mark that ended at the 1968 NCAA College Division World Series, the only CWS appearance in school history. He was inducted into the athletics department’s Hall of Honor in 1992.
The Arkansas State Alumni Association named Callaway a distinguished alumnus in 2007. A former board member of the Arkansas State Foundation and a 1924 Sustaining Life Member of the Alumni Association, he and his wife Paula, who is also an A-State alumna, provided a major gift in 2008 toward the construction of the Cooper Alumni Center and the Jim and Paula Callaway Terrace is named in their honor. He remains involved with A-State as a current member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet.
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