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U of M Students Continue Tradition of Leadership in Mock Tenn. Legislature

For release: December 14, 2010
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901/678-2843

Gian Gozum
Gian Gozum
The Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature chose two students from the University of Memphis to be leaders of that body’s next session. Cory Higdon was elected governor, and Jordan Wells was elected secretary of state. Both will serve during the 42nd session of the TISL General Assembly, which will meet Nov. 17-20, 2011.

Higdon succeeds Gian Gozum, a U of M honors student and member of the U of M’s Emerging Leaders program, who served as governor of the recent 41st TISL session. Gozum will head the U of M’s TISL delegation next year. Students who are interested in participating in TISL may contact him at

Wells’ duties will include directing the flow of legislation from committee to the House to the Senate during the 42nd session. Higdon’s gubernatorial duties will include leading the Executive Council and overseeing changes and improvements to the overall TISL program.

Cory Higdon
Cory Higdon
Higdon was speaker of the house during the recent 41st session, and Wells had participated in Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge. Both students are in the Helen Hardin Honors Program at the University, and Cory is in the Emerging Leaders program.

Two other students, Joseph Michael Casey, sophomore, and Nicholas Mastron, freshman, earned the Carlisle Award, which recognizes the most skilled debaters at TISL. Both are honors students, and Casey is an Emerging Leader. Also, because of the pair’s contribution to legislative discussion about bills introduced during the session, the Executive Council declared the U of M delegation ‘highly influential.’

The University of Memphis has a long history of involvement with TISL. Higdon will be the 13th U of M student to serve as governor; the TISL seal was designed by a U of M student; and many University alumni who participated in TISL have gone on to careers in public service in Tennessee. Among them are Tenn. Court of Appeals judges Frank Clement Jr. and Holly Kirby, Tenn. Treasurer David Lillard, and Tenn. Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Jordan Wells
Jordan Wells
Founded in 1966, during a time of increased student activism and political change in the nation and in Tennessee, TISL today includes most of the colleges and universities in the state. During its annual November sessions at the capitol in Nashville, it has provided thousands of students over three generations with an education about Tennessee state government and with a channel to express their opinions about state issues. More information about TISL, including a video, is available online at
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