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U.S. Secretary of Education to Keynote Undergraduate Ceremonies May 19 (Released: 04/12/01)

By Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige has accepted an invitation to deliver the keynote address during undergraduate commencement exercises at the University of Connecticut May 19.

Paige was superintendent of schools in Houston, Texas from 1994 until being tapped by Pres. G.W. Bush this year. He also served for a decade as dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University, where he established the university's Center for Excellence in Urban Education, a research facility that concentrates on issues related to instruction and management in urban school systems.

As Education Secretary, Paige is charged with carrying out President Bush's foremost priority -- providing every American child with access to a quality education at all levels, from pre-kindergarten through college and leaving no child behind.

More than 3,200 students will receive their diplomas during the event, which will be held in the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion during two ceremonies, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Neag School of Education, and the College of Continuing Studies will march during the afternoon ceremonies, while majors in UConn's other eight Storrs-based schools and colleges will graduate during the morning event.

Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland will deliver the keynote speech to more than 120 aspiring doctors and dentists during commencement exercises at the UConn Health Center at 5:30 p.m. May 24; Lester R. Brown, founder and president of the Worldwatch Institute, a non-profit research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental issues, will speak to about 1,200 master's and doctoral degree candidates during graduate school ceremonies in Storrs at 3 p.m. May 20; and Clare Dalton, the Matthews Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University School of Law, will keynote ceremonies for 173 students who have earned juris doctor degrees, at the UConn School of Law at 10:30 a.m. May 20

"We are deeply honored to have our nation's education leader join us for this celebration of academic success. I look forward to hearing Secretary Paige's advice to our graduates, and I hope to showcase our extraordinary University," UConn President Philip Austin said in announcing Paige's upcoming visit. "I am particularly eager to let him know about the contributions the Neag School of Education is making to K-12 education in Connecticut and across the nation."

Austin also praised the selection of Gov. Rowland as keynote speaker at the UConn Health Center.

"We are, as always, privileged to have the leader of the state join us to commemorate the excellence of Connecticut's flagship public University. At the UConn Health Center in particular, our strides in research are in no small measure attributable to the governor's support for our Academic Research Building, which has enabled us to attract some of the nation's outstanding scientists and enhanced our ability to contribute to the state's quality of life and economic development," Austin said.

Born in Monticello, Mississippi, Paige is the son of public school educators, and he has carried that passion for public education with him throughout his career. As a trustee and an officer of the Board of Education of the Houston Independent School District from 1989-1994, Paige coauthored the board's A Declaration of Beliefs and Visions, a statement of purpose and goals for the school district that called for fundamental reform through decentralization, a focus on instruction, accountability at all levels, and development of a core curriculum. The paper was the catalyst that launched the ongoing, comprehensive restructuring of the Houston school district.

In 2001, Paige was named National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

Paige earned his bachelor's degree from Jackson State University in Mississippi and his master's and doctoral degrees from Indiana University.

Rowland began his second term as Connecticut's governor in January 1999. He was, until Jane Swift was sworn in as Massachusetts governor on April 10, the youngest governor in the nation. During his tenure in Hartford, the state has run surpluses totaling more than $1.2 billion, and he has invested more than $2 billion to rebuild the state's education system, from pre-kindergarten through college. In June 1995, he signed into law the bill that created the UConn 2000 program, which to date has led to the construction of nearly 20 new buildings on UConn's main and regional campuses, and he also supported capital spending to build a $40 million Academic Research Building at the UConn Health Center.

Lester Brown, whose skills during the past four decades as an analyst, advocate and organizer has pushed environmental issues to the center of the world's consciousness, began his career as a farmer in southern New Jersey, studied agricultural sciences at Rutgers University, graduating in 1955 and, after spending six months in India, joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service in 1959 as an international agricultural analyst.

In 1974, with support from Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Brown founded Worldwatch Institute, a private non-profit research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental issues. In 1984, he launched State of the World Reports, an annual newsletter translated into all the world's major languages. It has become the bible of the environmental movement. He has since created several more magazines focusing on environmental issues, authored nearly 20 books, and delivered dozens of lectures. He has won nearly 30 awards, and sits on the boards of directors of more than a dozen national and international environmental groups.

Dalton, who has been on the faculty at Northeastern University's School of Law since 1988, is a leading feminist legal scholar and pioneer in the development of legal education focusing on domestic violence. In 1990, she founded Northeastern's Domestic Violence Clinic and, three years later, established the Domestic Violence Institute and agreed to serve as its executive director.

The Institute today is considered a signature program for the law school, serving as a national model for pedagogy about domestic violence and for law school-based institutes across the country.

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