Two alumni return to Mason as Winter Graduation speakers

Kelly McNamara Corley

Two George Mason University alumni, who as working professionals heightened their career trajectories by earning advanced degrees from Mason, will be the featured speakers at the Winter Graduation ceremonies at EagleBank Arena on Dec. 20.

Fortune 500 executive Kelly McNamara Corley, JD ’89, is executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Discover Financial Services. Higher education leader M. Brian Blake, PhD Information Technology ’00, is provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Drexel University.

Corley will speak at the 10 a.m. winter graduation ceremony, and Blake will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony.

In her 36 years at Discover, Corley has worked her way from being an intern to managing the financial services company’s legal advisory, litigation, regulatory, and government relation matters. She served as senior vice president at Discover from 1999 to 2007, leading its spin-off from Morgan Stanley.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Southern California, Corley moved to the Washington, D.C., area for an internship and later attended law school at night while working full time. Corley was the Mason Law School’s Alumnus of the Year in 2011, served on the Law School Advisory Board and created scholarships in nursing and law. Corley has been recognized numerous times for her professional and service work. She and her team at Discover have been honored for providing pro bono services to underserved citizens, including helping first responders write their wills. Corley served on the Mason Board of Visitors from 2013 to 2017.

At the 10 a.m. ceremony, Corley will address graduates of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science, Schar School of Policy and Government, the Antonin Scalia Law School, and the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

M. Brian Blake

Blake, an engineer who earned his doctorate from Mason while working in the private sector, has served as Drexel’s chief academic officer since 2015, overseeing the Philadelphia institution’s 15 schools and colleges. Before joining the Drexel administration, Blake served in teaching or administrative posts at the University of Miami, the University of Notre Dame, and Georgetown University.

As provost, Blake has led Drexel’s development of a strategic vision called “Creating the 21st-Century Academic Experience,” formed a student advisory group geared toward campus climate and overseen the establishment of three research centers and a graduate college.

Blake earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech and a master’s from Mercer University, both in electrical engineering. He is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering.

At the 2 p.m. graduation ceremony, Blake will address students from the School of Business, the College of Health and Human Services, the College of Education and Human Development, the Volgenau School of Engineering, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.