PULLMAN, Wash. — Mikal J. Thomsen, president of Western Wireless Corp., will speak at Washington State University‘s fall commencement set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11 in Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.

A 1979 WSU business administration graduate, Thomsen is a founder, president and a director of Western Wireless, which has its headquarters in Bellevue.

About 600 graduates are expected to participate in the ceremony, said Teri Nelson, the university’s commencement coordinator. In recent academic years, about 4,400 undergraduates and some 900 graduate students have earned degrees from WSU.

WSU President V. Lane Rawlins will preside at the event, the fourth fall commencement ceremony in the university’s history since its founding in 1890.

Thomsen’s activities with the university include chairing the WSU Foundation Board of Governors.  He is also a member of the WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science advisory board and the WSU Friends of the Library.

Western Wireless owns and operates wireless phone systems in 19 western states and eight foreign countries, serving some three million customers.

Thomsen was president and chief executive officer of Pacific Northwest Cellular from 1991-1994 and became chief operating officer of Western Wireless when it was founded in 1994. In 1999, he became Western Wireless’ president and director. From 1983-1991, Thomsen held various positions with McCaw Cellular.

He is a member of the Cellular Telecommunication Industry Association’s board of directors and a director of the The Basketball Club of Seattle, which owns the Seattle Supersonics of the National Basketball Association and the Seattle Storm of the Women’s NBA. He is also a Winebid.com director.

Thomsen is a Tacoma native and a graduate of Curtis High School in University Place.  His parents are WSU graduates.

New for those attending fall commencement will be shuttle bus and Disability Resource Center van service from the parking lot of Lewis Alumni Centre to the coliseum parking lot, Nelson said.