Jim McGovern to be Featured Speaker at UMass Amherst Commencement

“Congressman McGovern has been a champion for human rights, an influential legislator in the fight to end food insecurity in America, and a tireless advocate for the people of Massachusetts,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. “He played an important role in securing direct funding for UMass and our students through three COVID-19 relief bills during the pandemic. We are honored to have him as our featured speaker.”

About Congressman McGovern

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, McGovern grew up in the blue-collar Burncoat neighborhood of Worcester, Mass. It was there, he says, that he learned the values that he fights for every day in Congress: fairness, integrity, justice and decency.

McGovern worked his way through college as an intern for Democratic South Dakota Sen. George McGovern (no relation), earning a bachelor of arts degree and a master’s of public administration degree from American University in Washington, D.C. In 1984, he was the youngest person ever to nominate a candidate for president of the United Sates when he placed Sen. McGovern’s name into contention, saying that “the highest duty of any elected official is to voice his or her dissent from policies that are wrong, regardless of what political pollsters and pundits may say.”

As press secretary and legislative director for Congressman Joe Moakley, McGovern put his beliefs into action. Following the widespread outrage over the massacre of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador, Moakley asked McGovern to lead a congressional investigation into the incident. McGovern exposed that the murders were committed by the American-backed Salvadoran Army – leading to public outcry and human rights restrictions on future aid to the country.

McGovern’s principled convictions have earned him the trust of his constituents and the admiration of his colleagues and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who named him chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee in 2019.

Among the congressman’s many accomplishments are his successful effort to increase Pell Grant funding for low-income students, creating a program to provide nutritious meals in schools for millions of the world’s poorest children, and passing laws that target global human rights abusers with sanctions. He says the highest honor of his life was sharing a jail cell with the late Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis (D-GA) after the pair were arrested for protesting the Darfur genocide outside the Sudanese Embassy.

McGovern is married to Lisa Murray McGovern. They live in Worcester with their children, Patrick and Molly.