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March 3, 2005

Gary Locke to speak at UW Tacoma commencement

Former governor Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American governor in U.S. history, will deliver the commencement address at the UW Tacoma’s graduation exercises Friday, June 10.

“We are honored that Gov. Locke will deliver the commencement address for UW Tacoma’s 14th graduation ceremony,” said UWT Interim Chancellor Steven G. Olswang. “Higher education was one of Locke’s top priorities as governor, and the growth of UW Tacoma — including the addition of the Institute of Technology — was among the state’s greatest educational accomplishments during his administration.”

Locke, governor from 1996 to 2005, has been instrumental in the development of UW Tacoma. He cut the ribbon at the grand opening of UW Tacoma’s permanent campus in 1997 and signed legislation that funded five historic renovations (Dougan, Keystone, Pinkerton, Cherry Parkes and Mattress Factory) and new construction of a science building on campus, a combined investment of about $80 million. Cherry Parkes and Mattress Factory were the first higher education buildings in Washington and the first construction projects of any kind in the city of Tacoma to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

During Locke’s time as governor, enrollment at UW Tacoma grew from about 700 to nearly 2,100. In 2000, he proposed an Institute of Technology be established at UWT as part of his plan to expand Washington’s higher education programs to meet the needs of high-tech industry for well-prepared graduates. Last year, Locke signed a bill requiring UWT and four other upper-division campuses to perform self-studies and make recommendations about their futures. As a result, bills are moving through the Legislature to allow freshmen and sophomores to enroll at UWT. Under the proposed legislation, UWT would add a four-year baccalaureate program while maintaining its commitment to transfer students.

Locke has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University and a law degree from Boston University. Before becoming governor, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served as King County Executive.

About 850 UWT graduates will receive diplomas in June, either a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. Colorful academic regalia will reflect UWT’s range of academic disciplines: arts and sciences, nursing, business, social work, education, urban studies and computer science.

Presiding over the ceremony for the first time will be UW President Mark Emmert, and Patricia Spakes, who will become UW Tacoma chancellor in April.

Because the Tacoma Dome, UWT’s usual commencement venue, was not available on the required date this year, UWT’s commencement will be held at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center. Seating at the event is limited. Tickets are being provided only to graduates and are not available to the general public.