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Entrepreneur Irving Matthews to address Fall 2021 graduates

Nearly 450 students will graduate from Southern University and A&M College during Fall Commencement activities beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 10 at the F.G. Clark Activity Center. Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees will be awarded.

The chief student marshal is Mary K. Smith, who will be receiving a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Science. The Houma, Louisiana, native is graduating with a 3.965 GPA.

The speaker for the occasion is entrepreneur and philanthropist Irving Matthews.  A Southern alumnus, Matthews is currently the president and owner of The Matthews Automotive Group, which includes four franchises, — Ford, Kia, Toyota and Mazda — employing more 337 employees. Matthews’ dealerships reported sales of over $171 million in 2020. His first dealership broke into Black Enterprise Magazine's Top 100 Minority Automobile Dealerships in its first full year of operation and has continually improved its ranking annually.

Matthews entered the automobile business after 20 years of manufacturing experience, serving 14 years with Procter and Gamble in various managerial roles, and four of his six years with Frito-Lay as plant manager of the Orlando Manufacturing Plant. While with Frito-Lay, Matthews’ desire to serve the community was apparent. He has served on several boards and has membership in several civic organizations.

In May, Matthews gifted $1 million to expand programming creating the Southern University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. The gift will also provide seed funding for the construction of a new state-of-the-art
14,000-square foot building that will house the Center’s operations.

In recognition of his gift, the Center will be named the Matthews Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. His philanthropic efforts benefitting Southern University spans three decades totaling $916,000. With this gift, Matthews’ lifetime giving to Southern will exceed $2 million. Construction of the Matthews facility is expected to be complete in late 2022.

Due to COVID-19, Southern University continues its indoor mask mandate across campus, including the F.G. Clark Activity Center. Open seating begins at 9 a.m.

For more information about Southern’s Fall 2021 Commencement, go to