AMHERST, Mass. – U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will give the keynote address at the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Friday, May 12 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. The ceremony begins at 4:30 p.m.
Warren has assumed a high profile in national politics as an advocate for higher education reform, consumer protection and an expert on the financial industry. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Warren served as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Her independent efforts to protect taxpayers, hold Wall Street accountable and ensure tough oversight of both the Bush and Obama administrations won praise from both sides of the aisle. The Boston Globe selected Warren for a Bostonian of the Year award and Time magazine called her a “New Sheriff of Wall Street” for her oversight efforts.
UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy says Warren is a strong role model for students. “We are inspired by her staunch advocacy for equitable access to education, environmental resource conservation and support for economic justice,” he says. “These issues are in alignment with our campus’s core values and our long history of activism in pursuit of social justice. At UMass Amherst we stand for the hopes, the ambitions, the bold experiments and the innovative solutions of the people of Massachusetts and the world beyond. We share Sen. Warren’s commitment to making a profound, transformative contribution to the common good.”
Warren, a first-term Democratic senator from Massachusetts, was elected in 2012 and has been a tireless advocate for making higher education more affordable. Noting that more than $1 trillion in total loan debt impairs the financial future of college students, Warren has called for dramatic reforms to make college more affordable and open up debt-free higher education options for students. Embracing the central critiques of both Democrats and Republicans, she believes that effective reform must include both a renewed commitment to investing in higher education at the state and federal levels combined with an effort to strengthen accountability and realign incentives so that colleges are encouraged to keep costs down and provide a high-quality education.
Warren has highlighted ways to change incentives to ensure that colleges put students first, such as requiring colleges to share in the risks from student loans, implementing a rule against taxpayer waste, and rewarding colleges that keep costs down. She has also called on states to refinance student loans in the face of Congressional inaction, and to end cuts to higher education or face federal requirements to do so. She has advocated for reform of the federal role in higher education, including state-federal partnerships to support public schools, fixing the Pell Grant system, simplifying financial aid, and changing the rules of the student loan program to prioritize students over federal profits. She also has expressed support for measures that would strengthen accountability for the Department of Education to ensure that there are real consequences for student loan servicers and colleges that break the law and cheat students.
In the Senate, Warren serves on the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the Special Committee on Aging and the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Prior to her election to the Senate, Warren was a law professor for more than 30 years, including nearly 20 years as the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. The graduating class at Harvard twice recognized her with the Sacks-Freund Award for excellence in teaching. She taught courses on commercial law, contracts and bankruptcy and wrote more than 100 articles and 10 books, including three national best-sellers, “A Fighting Chance,”“The Two-Income Trap” and“All Your Worth.” National Law Journal named her one of the most influential lawyers of the decade, Timemagazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world three times, and she has been honored by the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association with the Lelia J. Robinson Award.
Warren is a graduate of the University of Houston and Rutgers School of Law. She and her husband, Bruce Mann, live in Cambridge.