UW News

April 15, 2013

Jon Huntsman selected as UW Commencement speaker

News and Information

Jon Huntsman, who has spent more than two decades in public service, will be the featured speaker at the University of Washington’s Commencement exercises June 15.

Huntsman began his public career as a staff assistant to President Ronald Reagan in 1983. He was deputy assistant secretary of commerce for Asia and also deputy assistant secretary of the International Trade Administration for President H.W. Bush.

Jon HuntsmanIn 1992, he was appointed as U.S. ambassador to Singapore by President George H.W. Bush, becoming the youngest U.S. ambassador in more than 100 years.  In 2001 he was appointed deputy U.S. trade representative, negotiating free trade agreements with Asian and African nations.

Huntsman was elected governor of Utah in 2004 and won re-election in 2008.  In Utah, he is known for having brought about economic reforms, tripling the state’s rainy day fund and helping to bring unemployment rates to historic lows.

He was appointed U.S. ambassador to China by President Barack Obama in 2009. He resigned this position in 2011 to seek the Republican presidential nomination. He ended his campaign for president in early 2012, endorsing the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney.

“Ambassador Huntsman has had an exemplary career in public service,” said UW President Michael K. Young. “He has represented this country with extraordinary distinction and contributed to building strong relationships abroad.  His perspectives on public service and global engagement are just right for our graduates to consider as they make their ways into the world. I am very much looking forward to hearing what he has to say.”

Huntsman currently serves on the board of Ford Motor Co., Caterpillar Corp, Huntsman Corp, the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania. He also is a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institute, a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a trustee of the Reagan Presidential Foundation and chairman of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

He is a visiting fellow at  Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international politics from the University of Pennsylvania.

The University of Washington’s 138th Commencement ceremonies will take place at 1:30 pm June 15 at CenturyLink Field. UW President Michael K. Young will officiate.  The UW estimates that it will award more than 12,000 degrees. An audience of about 40,000 family members and friends is expected, and more than 4,500 graduates are projected to attend.