Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The President Pro Tempore of Alabama A&M University's Board of Trustees will be the keynote speaker for spring commencement exercises

Huntsville, Ala. ---- The President Pro Tempore of Alabama A&M University's Board of Trustees will be the keynote speaker for spring commencement exercises scheduled on Friday, May 13, at 6 p.m. in the Louis Crews Stadium.

Alumnus and Trustee Odysseus Lanier has led the board of trustees since October 2010. He is one of the four founding partners of McConnell Jones Lanier & Murphy LLP (MJLM) and leads the firm’s Federal Services Group, with primary responsibility for MJLM’s Engineering & Technical Services Division located in Huntsville, Ala., with over 90 employees. With over 180 full-time employees firm-wide, MJLM is the third largest African American-owned accounting and consulting firm in the United States, the largest African American-owned accounting and consulting firm in the southern and southwestern United States, and the 19th largest public accounting firm in Houston, Tex., as reported by the Houston Business Journal’s 2010 Book of Lists.

Lanier has amassed more than three decades of professional experience. In addition to working with federal, state and local agencies, Lanier lists among his numerous specialties the provision of assistance to colleges and universities, school districts, and municipalities by providing expert consultation in governance, strategic planning, business process improvement, procurement strategies, and financial management. He also leads MJLM’s business process outsourcing and co-sourcing initiatives, including large-scale administrative, financial, engineering and management support services contracts, as well as internal audit co-sourcing and outsourcing projects.

Odysseus LanierBorn in Huntsville, Ala., where he graduated from S. R. Butler High School in 1973, the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) matriculated to Alabama A&M University, graduating with honors in 1977 with a B.S. in Accounting. While attending AAMU, he was president of his Freshman Class, president of the Commuting Students Organization (known as “Day Students”), Vice Basileus of Nu Epsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., and president of the Student Government Association. As president of the Student Government Association, along with fellow Student Government Association Presidents at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) from the mid-Atlantic and Southern Regions of the United States, Lanier was a founding member of the National Organization of Black University and College Students in Washington, D.C., in 1976.

For more than 30 years, Lanier has been a resident of Houston, Tex., where he started his career as an accountant with Arthur Andersen & Co., serving as a supervising senior in both the Audit and Tax Departments. He also worked as an internal auditor with the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and General Homes Consolidated Companies before embarking on a career in entrepreneurship; forming a small CPA / consulting firm in 1984; and ultimately co-founding the consulting firm Empirical Management Services, Inc., on his kitchen table in 1992. The firm ultimately merged with the CPA firm McConnell & Jones LLP in 1999 to form MJLM.

The AAMU alumnus currently holds professional memberships in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of Black Accountants Division of African American owned CPA Firms. He is the recipient of numerous professional awards and recognition throughout his career. Moreover, his firm received the Pinnacle Award and Emerging 10 Minority-Owned Businesses Award, both of which are presented to Houston, Tex.-based minority-owned companies based on growth, business philosophy, and community involvement through corporate responsibility. In 2002, Reverend Jesse Jackson presented Lanier with the “Bridge Builders’ Award” at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund Annual Conference in Chicago, Ill., for forging strategic business alliances between minority-owned firms and majority-owned firms; and, in 2007, Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow / PUSH Wall Street Project presented him its “Entrepreneur of the Year Award.”

Throughout his business and professional careers, Lanier has been active in the community, heeding AAMU's motto: “Service is Sovereignty.” In 1982, he was a charter member of Rho Beta Beta Graduate Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. In 1983, Lanier was vice president of the Houston Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. In 1995, he served on the Houston Workforce Development Board. And, in 1998, he served on the transition team for City of Houston Controller Sylvia Garcia. The Huntsvillian is the former chairman of the Harris County Housing Authority Board of Commissioners from 2003-2007; served as corporate co-chairperson of the Ensemble Theater’s 7th Annual Golf Tournament; and is a former member of the Board of Directors for Mental Health America of Greater Houston. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of jazz artist Joe Sample’s Youth Organization, and he is Vice-Chairman of the Advocacy Committee for the National Association of Black Accountants’ Division of African American-owned CPA Firms.

Furthermore, Lanier has also been politically active throughout his career. In 1988, for instance, he was elected president of Citizens for Progress in Houston, Tex., a group of young African American Republicans who left the Democratic Party to help elect President George H. W. Bush after supporting Rev. Jesse Jackson in the Texas Democratic Primary. In May 1989, the Late Lee Atwater, while chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), appointed him as the African American representative to the RNC’s three-person Minority Outreach Coordinating Council for the State of Texas. In July 1989, Texas Republican Governor Bill Clements appointed him to the Texas Southern University Board of Regents where, at 33 years old, Lanier was the youngest appointee to a state governing board of regents at the time. He was immediately appointed chairperson of the Finance Committee and served in this capacity for four years of his six-year term. In March 1990, Texas State Treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison appointed him to her Audit Advisory Committee for the Texas State Treasury, where he served until she was elected to the United States Senate in a special election in 1993. In 1993, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison appointed Lanier to her African American Advisory Committee for the Houston Region, a position in which he continues to serve.

In 2004, Lanier worked with Senator Hutchison, former Secretary of Education Dr. Rod Paige, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson to establish the annual African American Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., which was co-sponsored by Senator Hutchison and Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Lanier is currently a member of Senator Hutchison’s prestigious Leadership Trust for the State of Texas and served as a member of her Gubernatorial Election Committee in her recent campaign for Governor of the State of Texas in 2010.

Over the years, the AAMU alumnus has faithfully supported his Alma Mater. He delivered the keynote address for the 127th Founder’s Day Convocation in 2002, served on the Presidential Search Committee in 2005, and was the Vice Chairman for the Presidential Search Committee in 2008. He also served as Corporate Chairperson for the Career Development Services-sponsored Youth Motivation Task Force (YMTF) in 2007 and Corporate Co-Chairperson in 2009. In June 2009, Governor Bob Riley appointed him to the Board of Trustees and, after serving approximately one year as Chairman of the Business and Finance Committee, his fellow trustees elected him as the President Pro Tempore of the board in October 2010.

A staunch community advocate, Lanier is socially active in the Houston area. He is a member of the Houston Chapter of 100 Black Men and Rho Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. His family is also a member of the Sugarland-Missouri City Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Incorporated. Additionally, as a result of his immense social involvement, he has received awards and recognition, including “Omega Man of the Year” by Rho Beta Beta in 1989, “Father of Honor” by the Texas Spring Cypress Chapter of Links Incorporated in 2006, and “Distinguished Father of the Year” by the Sugar Land-Missouri City Chapter of Jack and Jill in 2008.

"O.D.", as long-time friends and even acquaintances call him, enjoys fishing with family, working out, and playing golf with friends, when time permits. He and his family are members of The Fort Bend Church in Sugar Land, Tex. He is married to Tammy (Williams) Lanier, and they have three children: two sons - Geraud (wife Amber) and Bryce, and one daughter, Blake—and two grandsons, Nigel and Donovan.

In case of inclement weather, an afternoon and subsequent evening program will be held in the T.M. Elmore Building (gymnasium). ###

NEWS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 10, 2011 CONTACT: Jerome Saintjones, 256.372.5607

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