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Clayton State Announces Commencement Speakers; Michael Burnett and Monica Pearson

May 05 2015

Clayton State University's annual Spring Commencement ceremonies will be held in the University’s Athletics Center on Saturday, May 9, at 9 a.m. and noon.

J. Michael Burnett, CEO of Piedmont Fayette Hospital, will be the speaker at the 9 a.m. ceremony.  Former WSB-TV anchor Monica Pearson will be the speaker at the noon ceremony.

Approximately 270 graduates from the Colleges of Business, Health and Information and Mathematical Sciences will participate in the 9 a.m. ceremony. A total of 250 graduates from the College of Arts & Sciences are expected to take part in the noon ceremony.

J. Michael Burnett, CEO of Piedmont Fayette Hospital

Burnett joined Piedmont Atlanta Hospital as an administrative resident in 1996 and worked as operations director of the Fuqua Heart Center of Atlanta at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital from December 1996-98. Subsequently, he joined the Emory Clinic as senior financial analyst but returned to Piedmont as director of management support in 1999. In 2001, he assumed the role of vice president of clinical services at Piedmont Fayette Hospital and in 2008 was named as Piedmont Fayette’s chief operating officer. He subsequently held the position of Chief Administrative Officer and in 2014 was named as Piedmont Fayette’s Chief Executive Officer.

During his tenure with Piedmont Fayette Hospital he has been instrumental in the growth of the hospital adding interventional and therapeutic cardiac catheterization services, obstetrics, a cancer center and numerous facility expansions. As a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, he received the Early Career Healthcare Executive Regent’s Award in 2004. The Immediate Past Chairman for the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, Burnett and his wife Amy live in Fayetteville with their three children Michael, Grace, and Henry.

Monica Pearson

Pearson is a renowned Atlanta television journalist who joined WSB-TV in 1975 as Atlanta's first woman and first minority to anchor the daily 6 p.m. news.  She also has anchored the 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 11 p.m. news during her career.  After 37 years as a news anchor with WSB-TV, Pearson retired in 2012.  She now hosts a weekly radio show on KISS 104.1 FM, writes a column, “Monica Matters” for Southern Seasons Magazine, continues her Closeups interviews on She has received numerous accolades and honors for her distinguished bodies of work, including 33 local and regional Emmys.

Pearson is a member of numerous civic, community and professional organizations, including the NAACP (Life Member), The National  and The Atlanta Associations of Black Journalists, The Atlanta Press Club, and the Screen Actors Guild, to name a few. A resident of Henry Count, Pearson is married to John E. Pearson Sr., the mother of Claire Patrice, and step-mother of John E. Pearson, II. 


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