GGC opens graduation ceremony to public
Gen. David Petraeus scheduled to speak

LAWRENCEVILLE - Because of the community's interest in hearing U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus speak, Georgia Gwinnett College has opened its invitation-only commencement exercises to the public.

Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, will be the keynote speaker at Friday's graduation. The 11:30 a.m. ceremony will take place on the campus of the state's newest four-year college in the courtyard of Building B.

"Adding chairs to an event like this is not an issue," said Georgia Gwinnett College President Daniel J. Kaufman, a retired brigadier general who taught with Petraeus at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "We have had so many calls from the general public asking if they can come and hear Gen. Petraeus speak that we decided it was important to share this historical moment with as many people as we can and our graduates agreed with us."

For security reasons, anyone wishing to attend the GGC commencement must RSVP at www.ggc.usg.edu/commencement by noon Thursday. Badges for the ceremony may be picked up at will-call in the atrium of Building B at Georgia Gwinnett College prior to Friday, according to a news release.

Petraeus, a four-star general, assumed the post of commander of Central Command, headquartered at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa last year, after serving for nearly two years as the commanding general of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, where he planned and implemented the 33,000-troop surge that started in January 2007. It has been cited as a key factor in Iraq's improved security. He also was the first commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq.

Central Command is responsible for a large swath of land stretching across the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, as well as the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the contentious areas of Pakistan.