Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to be UCSD’s 2019 Commencement Speaker


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Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will be speaking at UC San Diego’s all-campus commencement ceremony on June 15.

Madeleine Albright, nee Korbel, is a Czech-born American political figure who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 1993–97. She became the first female secretary of state during the Clinton presidency from 1997–2001.

Albright graduated from Wellesley College in 1959 and joined Georgetown University as a faculty member in 1982 after working as a liaison to the National Security Council. During her career at Georgetown, Albright served as the director for women students’ enrollment and as a research professor of international affairs.

When former president Bill Clinton announced his candidacy, Albright was one of his supporters. As the senior foreign policy advisor of Clinton’s campaign, Albright served as the foreign policy liaison and was later appointed to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

In 1996, Clinton appointed Albright to his cabinet and the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed the appointment. During her time as Secretary of State, Albright was the most highly-ranked female figure in the government.

Albright began a peace mission to the Middle East in 1997 and spoke to leaders of many countries. During her career in office, she fought for human rights during the Kosovo Conflict and military intervention in warfare. She was also the first secretary of state to visit North Korea in 2000.

Former president Barack Obama presented Albright with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed upon U.S. civilians, in 2012.

Albright last visited campus in 2004 to discuss foreign policy with two experts at the Institute of the Americas.

According to a press release from the university, Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said, “UC San Diego’s teaching and research prepares students as scholars, global citizens and changemakers. We look forward to having Secretary Albright reinforce these values and share her insight as a strong female leader and dedicated public servant who inspires making a positive impact on the globe.”

Last year, civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis planned to speak at the commencement ceremony. However, Lewis declined to speak at the commencement following concerns about how the UC system was treating union workers. Lewis’ withdrawal came after U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and Big Bang Theory actress Mayim Bialik declined to speak at the UC Berkeley and UCLA ceremonies, respectively, for the same reason.

According to UCSD Communications Director Christine Clark, Lewis’ decision to withdraw from the 2018 commencement did not affect speaker negotiations for the ceremony this year.

The Class of 2019 all-campus commencement ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 15 on RIMAC Field. Registration for the ceremony begins on March 6.

For more information regarding the ceremony, you can find the commencement website here.

Ella Chen is the News Editor of The Triton. You can follow her @cinder_ellachen.