Palm Beach Atlantic University will host two, in-person commencement ceremonies at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on Saturday, May 1, with former Olympic runner Madeline Manning Mims as the speaker.
COVID-19 protocols will be followed. Facial coverings will be required, and physical distancing will be practiced. Specifically, families will be seated in pods of four, with the pods spaced at least 6 feet apart. The convention center will be cleaned between the 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. ceremonies. Graduates who did not get to walk during the virtual commencement ceremonies in 2020 are invited to participate.
Mims is a gold and silver Olympic medalist in track and a pioneer in the 800 meter run. In 1968, she became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the 800 meter, and she remains the only female American gold medalist in that event. She was a member of four Olympic teams for the United States, spanning a 16-year international career.
Mims was inducted into the National and Olympic Halls of Fame, and at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she was honored as an Olympic legend. In 2019, she was inducted into the Cleveland Sports Legends Hall of Fame and the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum Hall of Fame.
As a speaker and leader among world athletes, Mims has shared her personal story at the White House and on the steps of the Capitol. She is founder and president of the United States Council for Sports Chaplaincy, having served as chaplain for the last eight Olympic Games. For six years, she served as chaplain to the former WNBA Shock basketball team.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from Tennessee State University, as well as a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degree from Oral Roberts University (ORU). ORU awarded her the 2015 Lifetime Global Achievement Award.
Mims is an author, international speaker, contemporary gospel recording artist, nonprofit leader and member of the Tulsa Jazz Hall of Fame. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband, Roderick. They have two grown children.
PBA Orlando will host a separate commencement ceremony 2 p.m. April 24 at First Baptist Church Orlando.