UW Today

April 14, 2011

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak at Commencement

News and Information

Kathleen Sebelius, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, will be the University of Washington’s Commencement speaker in ceremonies at Husky Stadium June 11.

Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st secretary of the department on April 28, 2009. She leads the principal agency charged with monitoring the health of the American public, ensuring that individuals get the health care they need, and providing children, families, and seniors with essential human services. She also oversees one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government, with nearly 80,000 employees.

Kathleen Sebelius

Kathleen Sebelius

As the countrys highest ranking health official, she leads the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the historic health care law signed by President Obama in 2010.  She also has been a leader during public health crises, coordinating the government response to the 2009 H1N1 virus and the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Sebelius was the second female governor of Kansas from 2003 to 2009, and was the first daughter of a governor to be elected governor in American history.  In 2005, Time Magazine recognized her achievements by naming her one of “Americas Top Five Governors,” praising her for eliminating a $1.1 billion debt she inherited, ferreting out waste in state government and strongly supporting public education — all without raising taxes.

Before being elected governor, she was the first Democrat to be elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner, serving from 1995 to 2003. Governing Magazine selected her as its Public Official of the Year for 2000. Prior to her service as Insurance Commissioner, she was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995.

Sebelius holds a master of public administration degree from the University of Kansas and a bachelor of arts degree from Trinity Washington University.

The university’s 136th Commencement ceremonies begin at 2 p.m.  About 4,500 graduates are expected to attend, with an audience of about 35,000 family members and guests.  Bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees are awarded to those who have completed academic requirements some time during the 2010-2011 academic year. Members of the Board of Regents, deans and other representatives of the University’s 16 colleges and schools will participate in the Seattle ceremony.