Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker to deliver 2016 Commencement address

Publication Date

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will be the featured speaker at Union's 222nd Commencement, College officials announced today.

More than 550 students in the Class of 2016 will receive degrees during the ceremony, scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday, June 12, on Hull Plaza. Baker will receive an honorary doctorate of laws degree.

He is the father of Andrew (A.J.) Baker, a member of the graduating class.

The College will also award an honorary doctorate of letters degree to William H. Kimbel, the Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment at Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change.

He is also director of ASU’s Institute of Human Origins, one of the preeminent research organizations in the world devoted to the science of human origins.

Last fall, Kimbel was part of an international team of researchers which announced that the jawbone Seyoum found in a remote area of Ethiopia was the oldest known fossil of the human genus. Researchers believe the fossil is 2.8 million years old, about 400,000 years older than previous fossil records.

Kimbel was nominated by Mark Walker, the John Bigelow Professor of History.

Baker, elected in November 2014, was inaugurated Jan. 8, 2015, as the commonwealth’s 72nd governor. A Republican, he previously served as a cabinet member in the administrations of Gov. William Weld and the late Gov. Paul Cellucci.

In 1994, he was appointed secretary of Administration and Finance, overseeing a number of cost-saving reforms, modernizing state government and making it more efficient. In 1998, the National Governors’ Association presented him with its Distinguished Service Award.

From 1999 to 2009, Baker served as the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, where he led the company out of receivership to become one of the top-ranked health plans in the nation.

“We are honored to have Gov. Baker address our graduates,” said President Stephen C. Ainlay. “His record of public service and leadership in both the public and private sector is inspiring. I’ve also gotten to know him as a Union parent, and I’m confident our next generation of leaders will be inspired by his message.”

A graduate of Harvard College, Baker earned an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

In addition to Andrew, Baker and his wife, Lauren, are the parents of Charlie and Caroline.

Baker is the latest governor to be the featured speaker at Commencement. Others have included Thomas Dewey (1950) and Charles Evans Hughes (1908) of New York and Earl Warren of California (1947).