ST. GEORGE, Utah — Former NBA player and coach Lionel Hollins will return to his alma mater to serve as the featured speaker at Dixie State University’s 106th Commencement Ceremony on May 5.
“Lionel was selected based on his lifetime of achievements as a DSU alumnus,” Dixie State Vice President of Academic Affairs & Provost Michael Lacourse said. “We are very excited and honored that he accepted our invitation and everyone is looking forward to hearing his words of wisdom and encouragement for our students.”
Commencement exercises will be split into two ceremonies this year, and Hollins will speak at the Baccalaureate Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 5. Later that same day at 2 p.m., Clinton Buhler, an assistant professor at Dixie State and chair of the Humanities Department, will speak at the Associate Commencement Ceremony. Both ceremonies will take place in the M. Anthony Burns Arena, and guests should be seated 15 minutes before each ceremony begins in preparation for the graduate processional.
Selected as the ceremony’s featured speaker for being a trailblazer on and off the court, Hollins was the starting point guard for the Dixie College men’s basketball team from 1971 to 1973. During this time, Hollins was named to the All-Conference and All-America teams and went on to play for Arizona State University. In 1975, he was selected 6th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers and went on to earn a spot on the 1976 All-Rookie First team. In 1977, he won an NBA Championship as a starter for the Trail Blazers and a year later, he was an NBA All Star. Additionally, for two years in a row, Hollins was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive team.
After retiring from play, Hollins coached a variety of teams, from those in the Amateur Athletic Union and collegiate level to the minor leagues and NBA. During his time with the Memphis (formerly Vancouver) Grizzlies, Hollins became the winningest coach in franchise history and led the team to the franchise’s first playoff series victory. He also received the honor of being coach of the month four times.
Over the years, Hollins has also taken his civic responsibilities seriously, mentoring young men and creating Lionel Hollins Charities to further his passion of giving back. He is an ambassador for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and has raised thousands of dollars for the organization. In addition to his community involvement, Hollins speaks to audiences all over the country about leadership, adversity, and success, motivating and inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds.
During the commencement ceremony, Hollins will address the 863 graduates who applied for bachelor’s degrees this year. In the afternoon, Buhler’s remarks will be directed toward the 966 students who applied for associate degrees.
Since arriving at Dixie State four years ago, Buhler has been active in efforts to improve the university by working with the Faculty Senate on numerous initiatives, including those targeted toward improving the general education curriculum. He also served on the committee that drafted the university-wide Dixie 2020: Status to Stature strategic plan that is currently being implemented.
Buhler’s research includes an analysis of the work of a group of underground, nonconforming artists who worked in defiance of the Soviet regime in Moscow and Saint Petersburg throughout the Cold War era as well as the works of displaced artists in diaspora communities in the United States. Last summer, he was invited by the National Veterans Art Museum to write the catalog essay accompanying an exhibition of the visual artworks by author and WWII veteran Kurt Vonnegut.
Buhler earned master’s degrees in the history of art and Slavic studies and a doctorate in modern and contemporary art history from The Ohio State University.
To learn more about Dixie State University’s 106th Commencement ceremonies, visit dixie.edu/commencement.