Chris Stewart, the men’s basketball play-by-play announcer for the Crimson Tide Sports Network for the past two decades, told 114 undergraduate and 55 graduate students who walked across the commencement stage Friday, that the University of Montevallo doesn’t teach a person everything they need to know.
But what the institution does teach its students is how to think.
“I learned how to figure things out when the textbook doesn’t always have the answer,” he said. “And I learned what so many others before me and since my graduation had learned, that just because you went to a small liberal arts university in a beautiful little piece of Shelby County, Alabama, you aren’t limited in what you can become.”
Chris Stewart, who served as the commencement’s keynote speaker, graduated from Montevallo in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication. Since then, he’s been a broadcaster since 1988, filling in this fall for Eli Gold as the play-by-play announcer for Alabama football and serving as the television host of “The Nick Saban Show” and “The Nate Oats Show on CTSN.” He has been named “Alabama Sportscaster of the Year” by the National Sports Media Association on five occasions.
The Fairfield native was also the recipient of UM’s Nathalie Molton Gibbons Alumni Achievement Award in 2009 and was a 2021 inductee into the UM Athletics Hall of Fame.
President John W. Stewart III presented Chris Stewart with another award during commencement: the President’s Award in recognition of his accomplishments in sports broadcasting and for being an “awesome alum.”
He also welcomed the class of 2022 and congratulated them on their great achievement.
“New alumni, you graduate today from a very special university,” President John W. Stewart III said. “One that has placed an indelible mark on you during your years as a student, and it will remain in your heart for the rest of your lives.”
“Tonight, you join over 26,000 others who have received a degree from this institution since its founding in 1896. I want each of you to know that we are proud of you, and we wish you much success in your future endeavors.”
After sharing some of his story about his time at Montevallo, Chris Stewart said life was up to him after he left the tutelage and care of the University. He told graduates that they’re now at that same place in their own lives. But they’ve been equipped to handle it well.
“You’ve earned your degree, whether you’ve done so with honors or a wing and a prayer. This truly is only the beginning. Whether you finish magna cum laude or like me, you finished saying Laude how come. What you do from this point forward will determine your true legacy.”
“Now is your opportunity to take what you’ve learned here, both academically and about yourselves, and go make the rest of the world better as best you can.”
At the end of the ceremony, UM National Alumni Association President Stephanie Shaw ’93 inducted the graduates into the association.
“I am pleased to welcome you, the class of 2022, into our alumni family,” she said.
“…As such, we alumni protect our home. We nurture her strength through our giving. We visit her when we can. We sing her praises wherever we go. We serve when called upon to help sustain our home, and make sure that it will be a home for others for many years to come. Now as you prepare to leave, we hope you know that Montevallo will always be your home.”