Oregon governor will speak at UO commencement

Oregon’s 38th governor, Kate Brown, will be the keynote speaker at the 2019 commencement at the University of Oregon.

UO’s commencement for the Class of 2019 will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday, June 17, in Matthew Knight Arena.

Brown, who assumed the governorship in 2015, has more than 25 years of experience in government and public service.

“Gov. Brown has a lengthy history of helping people, creating efficiencies in government, and making sure that all Oregon residents have a voice in how our state moves forward,” said UO President Michael H. Schill. “She is a friend to the University of Oregon, and she will deliver a message to graduates that will be inspirational, empowering and challenging.”

Commencement is one of the UO’s most important academic traditions, conferring degrees to about 4,000 undergraduates and about 1,000 graduate students. The event starts with a Grad Parade – with faculty, staff and graduates in full regalia – walking down 13th Avenue to Matthew Knight Arena for the main event.

It marks the culmination of years of hard work and scholarly study for each student. It is the moment that a Duck transitions from a life as an undergraduate or graduate student to one of the university’s more than 200,000 living alumni out in the world. More than 100,000 live in Oregon. Many have gone on to serve as leaders in business, industry, education, the arts, government, non-governmental organizations and their communities.

UO’s alumni include winners of Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards, Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim fellowships, MacArthur genius grants, the Nobel Prize, Olympic medals, Rhodes scholarships, the National Humanities Medal and countless other honors for achievement and public service. The UO graduates more ROTC officers than any other civilian school and ranks 16th for Peace Corps volunteers produced by the nation’s largest universities. In addition, the UO has produced seven Oregon governors, eight U.S. senators and 20 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Brown was born in Spain, where her father served in the U.S. Air Force. Her family moved to Minnesota and she later attended the University of Colorado Boulder, receiving a bachelor’s degree in environmental conservation with a certificate in women’s studies. She went to the Northwest School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, earning her law degree in 1985.

Brown worked as a family law attorney, focusing on cases involving children in Oregon’s foster care system. She also worked with the Juvenile Rights Project, co-founded the Oregon Women’s Health & Wellness Alliance and taught at Portland State University.

In 1991, Brown was appointed to the Oregon House of Representatives, where she served the 13th District. In 1997, she became a state senator, serving the 21st District. She was elected to statewide office as Oregon Secretary of State and began that job in January 2009. Six years later, she became Oregon’s 38th governor when her predecessor, John Kitzhaber, resigned. She won a special election in 2016 and was re-elected to the state’s top post in 2018.

During her tenure, Brown has signed legislation to improve the state’s education system, added jobs by passing Oregon’s largest transportation package, contained costs by improving government efficiency and accountability, and worked to assure that most adults and children have adequate access to health care.

For more information, visit the UO commencement website.