AMHERST, Mass. – Gov. Deval L. Patrick will give the main address at Undergraduate Commencement at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Friday, May 9. Patrick will be speaking to about 5,000 students who are receiving bachelor’s degrees, along with their families and friends at the ceremony in McGuirk Alumni Stadium at 4:30 p.m.
Patrick, who is finishing his second term as governor, is the first African-American to win the corner office in Massachusetts and is only the second African-American in the country to serve as governor. His personal story of success began in an impoverished Chicago neighborhood and has led him to the corridors of power in Boston and Washington, D.C. Patrick won the governor’s race in 2006 and won re-election in 2010.
UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy says the governor is both a welcome friend of the university and one of its most stalwart supporters. “Gov. Patrick has demonstrated how to succeed in both the public and private sector by harnessing the power of education,” Subbaswamy says. “He also understands the economic and social good that can be generated by the research and intellectual inquiry that takes place at a great land grant university such as UMass Amherst.”
As governor, Patrick has pursued a progressive agenda focusing on education, innovation and infrastructure, which has worked to expand opportunity and prosperity to all citizens in the Commonwealth. Building and maintaining a world-class public education system has been a cornerstone of his leadership.
Patrick’s career in both the public and private sector was built on educational opportunity – from a scholarship to the elite Milton Academy to Harvard College, then its law school. After clerking for a federal judge, he led a successful career in the private sector as an attorney and business executive, rising to senior executive positions at Texaco and Coca-Cola.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Patrick as United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. A friend of President Barack Obama, Patrick delivered a rousing speech in support of Obama’s reelection at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
In his endeavors, Patrick’s touchstone has been advice from his grandmother: “Hope for the best and work for it.” As a friend to the Commonwealth’s flagship UMass Amherst campus, Patrick has consistently approved measures designed to strengthen its status as one of the nation’s leading public research universities. In 2008, he orchestrated the passage of a higher education bond bill where $450 million was earmarked for a new academic building and two new research facilities. He was also instrumental last year in allocating $95 million to the campus for life science research and has supported measures to increase the campus budget to hold the line on tuition increases.
Patrick’s focus on education is part of his strategy for investment in the state’s economy. During his two terms, he led the state in making significant improvements to neglected infrastructure, oversaw the expansion of affordable health care insurance to more than 98 percent of Massachusetts residents, and accomplished major reforms in the state’s pension systems, ethics laws, and transportation bureaucracy.
Many of Patrick’s initiatives have targeted the Commonwealth’s unique strengths such as biotechnology and clean energy, making the state a global leader in cutting-edge technology and creating new opportunities and hope for the people of Massachusetts.